Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Most Excellent Year

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger is at heart a creative writing/journaling project by three quirky teenage narrators. High school juniors, avid Red Sox fan TC and charismatic Augie, have been best friends, brothers in every way but by blood, since the death of TC's mom when he was six years old. Their extended family includes TC's dad who is starting to date and Augie's parents. The third member of this unlikely trio is Alejandra, also known as Ale, privileged daughter of an ambassador whose best friend is her secret service agent Clint. Their English assignment is to journal their most excellent year. What keeps this book from being an average diary entry novel is the variety of mixed media entries; IM, journal entries, letters, email, and text messages are the backbone of the novel.

TC writes to his mother, Augie writes to Broadway stars Liza Minelli and Julie Andrews, and Ale addresses much of her journal to Jacqueline Kennedy. Not to be left out, TC's dad and the school guidance counselor text and email, Augie's dad and TC's dad exchange email, and pithy theater reviews from Augie's mother are included. As the novel progresses requisite obstacles are met and overcome with sometimes hilarious and often touching results. Though at times it seems too good to be true, TC and his dad adopting young orphan Hucky and their whirl-wind visit to New York city, good characterization keeps it from becoming sappy. This is a well paced, enjoyable, and charming, character driven coming-of-age novel.

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