Best friends and unofficial brothers T.C. and Augie are having a pretty decent ninth-grade year. Until they both fall in love, and it all goes to hell. For T.C., it’s Alejandra Perez – she’s beautiful, intelligent, the daughter of an ambassador … and she hates his guts. For Augie, it’s slightly more complicated – he realizes upon his fourteenth year of life that he likes boys. Not just “boys”, he is in love with Andy, one of the most popular kids in their grade. As the boys pursue their respective love interests, their freshman year plods along quite nicely. Augie auditions for the school musical, T.C. tries to set his father up with his guidance counselor, and the boys befriend a six-year-old orphan named Hucky. Told in the voices of Augie, T.C., and Ale, in various unconventional formats (emails and letters among other forms), My Most Excellent Year is one of the most touching and different coming-of-age stories I’ve read in a long time.
First of all, let me say that it is no wonder this book won last year’s Nerds Heart YA tournament last year. It is everything a young adult novel should be – funny, genuine, tons of heart, and full of great characters. There were so many things about this novel that I liked, I don’t even know where to start! Let me get one thing out of the way, though. The one thing I didn’t love about the book was the format. It’s not that I didn’t like it at all, it’s just that it was somewhat difficult for me to follow and I don’t think it added all that much to the story. But nevermind about that, it was a small issue I had and didn’t detract from the wonderfulness of the book in any meaningful way.
I loved the characters in this novel. I don’t know who to start with because they were all so great. I loved how T.C. knew that Augie was gay before Augie did, and when Augie finally revealed it to him, he didn’t even blink. It was exactly the kind of acceptance and love that you would hope and expect a gay teenager would receive from his best friend. I loved their relationship even more after Augie came out. I liked Augie as a character too, and reading about his insecurities with Andy was really adorable and endearing. I enjoyed reading about their relationship, the ups and the downs of first love.
Ale was a great character, too – I loved how she progressed throughout the book into being more confident about her interests and her ability to make her own decisions about her future. I was so proud and happy when she finally told her parents about her dreams of being an actress instead of a diplomat like they’d always planned for her. And how can I not talk about Hucky? He was the sweetest, most adorable six-year-old I think I’ve ever read about. I just wanted to hop into the book and give him a big hug.
My Most Excellent Year was such a feel-good read. Just about everything about this novel made me happy. Some of the plot twists were difficult to believe, but it made the story sort of magical – like the kids within these pages were touched with a special something that made things work out for them just so. I was okay with it because the story just put a huge smile on my face and I couldn’t argue with that. 🙂 This novel is creative, hilarious, smart, and bursting with excellent characters the reader can’t help but love. I absolutely recommend reading My Most Excellent Year.