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Title:  The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second

Author:  Drew Ferguson

Published:  September 1, 2008

Page Count:  320

Genres:  Fiction, YA, GLBT

My Rating:  4/5

Being Charles James Stewart, Jr. AKA Charlie the Second means never “fitting in.” Tall, gangly and big-eared, he could be the poster boy for teenage geeks. An embarrassment to his parents (he’s not to crazy about them, either), Charlie is a virtual untouchable at his school, where humiliation is practically an extra curricular activity. Charlie has tried to fit in, but all of his efforts fall on a glorious, monumental scale. He plays soccer–mainly to escape his home life–but isn’t accepted by his teammates who basically ignore him on the field. He still confuses the accelerator with the brake pedal and has failed his driving exam six times. He can’t work on his college application essay without writing a searing tell-all. But what’s freaking Charlie out the most is that while his hormones are raging and his peers are pairing off, he remains alone with his fantasies.

But all of this is about to change when a new guy at school begins to liven things up on the soccer team–and in Charlie’s life. For the first time in his seventeen years, Charlie will learn how it feels to be a star, at least off the field. But Charlie discovers that even cool guys have problems as he embarks on an unforgettable, risk-filled journey from which there is no turning back….

First of all, let me just be honest when I tell you that I wouldn’t have even heard of this book if it weren’t for Trish’s review.  Her review sums up my feelings pretty exactly, plus she had some great personal insight on why she liked the book so much, so trust me – you need to read her review before reading the rest of mine.  What are you waiting for?  Go now!

I agree with Trish that there was waaaay lots of sex in the book.  Way more than I’m used to.  But as I like to think of myself as pretty open-minded, and not too squeamish, it didn’t really bother me when I thought about why it was so necessary to the story.  It was necessary to the story – the book is in diary format, and what seventeen-year-old boy doesn’t think about sex 90% of the time?  I don’t know of any.  So, it makes perfect sense that there’s a reference to Charlie’s penis on almost every page and I get why it was there.  And, like Trish so eloquently explained, the book is exactly what a gay teenager would need most – to know that he’s not alone, that there are other people going through the same stuff he is, and that what he’s experiencing is completely normal.  Because it is.

Besides that, there really is a sweet teen romance in these pages.  When Charlie first meets Rob, he goes through the same stuff we all went through in our first relationship – constantly questioning, obsessing, thinking about everything that person says or does, constantly thinking about that person and hoping that they feel the same way.  Charlie went through all of that – and I personally found it so endearing to read about.

One more thing… I loved the setting of the book!  I actually live pretty close to the Chicago suburb where Charlie lives, and it was fun to see references to places I know well and streets I’ve traveled, every few pages.  Just an added bonus for me.🙂

Great book – highly recommended for teens and fans of YA lit/GLBT lit.  The book IS pretty graphic, though, and if I were a parent I probably would only want my kids reading it if they were at least fifteen or sixteen.  But other than that, I truly appreciated The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second and I’m so glad it was brought to my attention.

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