I'm sure you are all saying "Susan who?". It's been a long time since I posted on the Book Obsession, so let me remind you. I'm the Teen Services Coordinator at the Main Library. I got out of the habit of posting last year, and then I wanted to post a really great book. I do a lot of reading, but I just hadn't found that ONE great book. Well. I've found a book that I like a lot, for a lot of reasons. So sit down and dig in.
How Ya Like Me Now is real, funny, and painful all at the same time. Eddie has basically been taking care of himself for the last year and a half, even though he's only in high school. His dad died, and then his mom got addicted to OxyContin, and she has basically checked out. Eddie does the laundry, cooks for himself, and stole his mom's ATM card to pay for groceries. Eddie's mom makes his life pretty miserable - she's either crying or screaming at him or high, but he's learned to just ignore that. Until the day his mom gets arrested.
Eddie is turned over to his aunt and uncle to live with them and his cousin Alex, who's 15 too. They live in downtown Boston, and Alex attends an experimental school, what we in Arizona would call a charter school. Alex really likes his school. He knows everyone so well, and everyone at school knows what to expect from him - the goofy kid who never does his work until the last minute. Alex is worried about how Eddie, who is uptight and nervous, will fit in. The principal tells Alex it's his responsibility to show Eddie around and make sure Eddie's comfortable. Alex isn't even sure he really wants Eddie to go to the same school, much less share his homeroom with Eddie.
This book ends up very differently than you might think, but it's really good. Brendan Halpin has been one of my favorite authors for a long time (since I read Donorboy, which is an interesting look at what happens when the sperm donor has to raise the teenage daughter he never knew), and this one really stands out. The alternative school that Eddie and Alex go to sounds really fun, but a lot of hard work at the same time. Eddie and Alex have to do an incredible marketing project that would really make me nuts.
Some of Halpin's personal life seems to be hidden in this book - he used to teach at an alternative school (he wrote about it in Losing My Faculties) and I bet it was a lot like this one. Eddie and Alex aren't the only strong characters, either. Their homeroom is a small group, and you get to know all of the kids in there, of every race. There are some love stories in this book, along with the drug addiction and other issues. But it all works together. Read it. Trust me - I've been waiting for this for a long time!