Book Banter: Wise Young Fool

wiseyoungTitle: Wise Young Fool (ARC)

Author: Sean Beaudoin

Length: 416 pages

Genre: YA

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: ARC from Little Brown booth at ALA2013

Plot Basics: Teenage rocker Ritchie Sudden’s got a 90-day stint in juvenile detention and, as part of his rehabilitation, has to write his story in a journal. Smart-mouthed and edgy, Ritchie reluctantly tells the story of the year preceding the arrest and the quest to win Rock Scene 2013. But getting to be a real rocker means coming to terms with life — his crush on Ravenna Woods, his feelings about Dad Sudden leaving and mom’s new girlfriend moving in, school heavyweight Spencer Proffer, and the truth his sister Beth told him right before she died. And, the band needs a name, a drummer, a singer, a signature song and maybe a little luck.

Banter Points: Forget the fact that this is supposed to be a YA book. “Wise Young Fool” is a heck of a read, plucked out from story chords that feel like they should be familiar and yet surprise at every turn.

Sure, it’s a coming-of-age high school story, but Ritchie has chops as first-person narrator that few others in YA have. He’s deceptively honest, spinning a story that feels like it should be a tall tale ever until the pieces start clicking together and the reader realizes that it’s true.

The chapters switch between Ritchie being in juvie and the his explanation of events leading up to the arrest and each story line is equally compelling because he’s too smart for juvie and too naive for the world outside. The result is poignantly funny and painfully astute as Ritchie Sudden tries for authenticity in the over-cliched world of punk rock.

Bummer Points: If you have a problem with swearing, or teens smoking and drinking and having sex, then this book may not be for you.

Bonus News: Sean’s our guest next Wednesday, 7/31, to talk about the book. Be sure to stop back.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Last year, one of my “pusher” books was Tyler McMahon’s “How the Mistakes Were Made” which is also about a band and the dynamics there in. “Wise Young Fool” is taking it’s place and is probably a strong contender for Top Ten status this year.

Double Bonus: The book trailer

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