For the Nerds Heart YA Book Tournament, Vasilly and I judged The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson and Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers. These two books were great to judge together, as they both dealt with boys having a hard time in high school, starting their first serious relationship, having family problems at home, and ultimately being different in one way or another.
Here’s some excerpts from my review of Debbie Harry Sings in French:
It’s a sweet story; it’s a nice story….[T]he thread about Johnny being a transvestite was weak for me. I just didn’t see the character development to believe that Johnny really felt that way….I thought the writing of Meagan Brothers was really good. I think she’s taken a difficult and perhaps sensitive topic and put it in a story that would appeal to most people.
Here’s some excerpts from my review of The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second:
I liked the writing, liked the character development, liked how it made me remember how horrible high school was, liked how realistic Charlie was for a teenager, and liked the issues brought up in the book. But there’s references to Charlie’s dick on every. single. page….And I was wondering why I was reading something that had a target audience that was CLEARLY NOT ME….I decided later that I didn’t think the author could be true to Charlie without putting all the sex in the story….It’s particularly important to have books like this for kids wondering if they’re gay, because they can read the book and see if they identify with the character….I realized a book like this could be more important than I thought.
Vasilly and I agreed that Charlie was a very real character, which Johnny from Debbie Harry Sings in French didn’t have the same character development. Also, everything Charlie did seemed to be true to his character, while Johnny deciding he’s a transvestite didn’t ring true. The issues in Charlie were deeper and dealt with on a deeper level, while Debbie Harry was more of a feel-good book with a fairly two-dimensional character.
Vasilly and I decided that for the above reasons, The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second would be the winner!
How have the other brackets gone?
- My Most Excellent Year wins over The Opposite of Invisible
- The Last Exit to Normal wins over What They Always Tell Us
- Feathered wins over I Know It’s Over
- Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before wins over Alive and Well in Prague, New York
- Cracked Up to Be wins over The Shape of Water
- The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second wins over Debbie Harry Sings in French
- The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine wins over Leftovers
- The City of the Lake wins over Pretty Monsters
That means the following books will compete:
- My Most Excellent Year v. The Last Exit to Normal – to be judged by Heather
- Feathered v. Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before – to be judged by Amy
- Cracked Up to Be v. The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second – to be judged by Laza
- The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine v. The City of the Lake – to be judged by Stephanie
What greater recommendations do you have for books than these 8 books that are going on to the next round?