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Three teens complete an English assignment detailing their "most excellent year" in this big, warmhearted tale about musical theater, political organizing, baseball, friendship and love. Tony Conigliaro Keller (named like everyone in his family for a Boston Red Sox player) and Augie Hwong have been self-declared brothers since age six, when T.C.'s mother died. Entering high school, everyone but Augie knows that Augie is gay, which finally dawns on him when he falls for another student. Meanwhile, T.C. develops an intense crush on the novel's third essayist, Ale Perez, daughter of a Mexican diplomat now teaching at Harvard. While T.C. and his father share a baseball obsession, Augie and Ale get close when both are cast in Kiss Me, Kate. The essay segments are spliced with diary entries (T.C.'s are addressed to his mother, Ale's to Jacqueline Kennedy); e-mails from and between parents, teachers and Ale's former Secret Service agent; reprints of Augie's mother's hilariously excoriating theater reviews; transcripts of IM sessions. The characters are a little too good to be true, and there's a distracting and improbable subplot about a deaf motherless child obsessed with Mary Poppins. The protagonists sometimes sound more like 40-year-olds than teens; however, the results are unexpectedly positive, opening up the audience to adults as well as the target reader. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 8-11-Three bright and funny Brookline, MA, eleventh graders look back on their most excellent year-ninth grade-for a school report. Told in alternating chapters by each of them, this enchanting, life-affirming coming-of-age story unfolds through instant messages, emails, memos, diary entries, and letters to celebrity divas and to a deceased mom. T.C. (Anthony Conigliaro) Keller, whose mother died when he was six, is in love with baseball and Alejandra (Ale) Perez. She and Augie Hwong, who is gay and in love with Andy Wexler, are passionate about the stage and screen, and Augie and T.C. have been "brothers" since they were six. The teens mount a fabulous talent show, launch a couple of grassrooots political movements, and bring hope and love to a deaf, six-year-old foster child. What's more, Augie and T.C. have a refreshingly positive relationship with their parents. Similar in storytelling style to Kate Klise's classic Regarding the Fountain: A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks (Avon, 1998), this is a rich and humorous novel for older readers. The teen and adult characters are quirky and charming, and their adventures are involving without being over-the-top. A fun, feel-good story with star quality.-Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In his first novel for young readers, Kluger revisits themes in his adult titles: baseball, romantic sparring, and social activism. Boston teens T. C. and Augie are such close friends that their families acknowledge them as brothers. Alejandra has recently arrived from Washington, D.C., where her father served as a Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Written in multiple voices and nontraditional formats, including instant messages and school assignments, Kluger's crowded, exuberant novel follows the three high-school freshman through an earth-shaking year in which musical-theater-obsessed Augie realizes that he is gay, Alejandra reveals her theatrical talents to disapproving parents, and T. C. tries to make a deaf child's greatest wish come true. At the center are heart-pulling romances (even a few among adults) and a broadening sense of what family means. A few plot twists will require readers to suspend belief, and the voices tend to sound alike. Still, the appealing characters are bright, passionate, and fully engaged in their lives, and many readers will lose themselves in this original, high-spirited story.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2008 Booklist