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This Boy
Cover of This Boy
This Boy
Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy's coming-of-age.Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who...
Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy's coming-of-age.Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who...
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  • Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy's coming-of-age.

    Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters, and "wins" at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he's given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and maybe — oh god, please — he's beginning to catch the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez. Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills . . . it's all good.

    But in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it's easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss, and addiction. It's life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-This book follows Paul Walden through his four years of high school, from the first time he befriends Roby as an almost-freshman to postgraduation musings with Natalia as senior year comes to a close. It captures moments from sweet and small to tragic and life-altering. Readers will see Paul slipping toward substance abuse well before he's triggered into full addiction, showing how it can affect anyone, no matter their background. The relatively slim volume advances rapidly and reads like a highlights reel (in the best way) as the story speeds through each year of high school. One can almost see it as a movie, the montage occasionally pausing to zoom in on a pivotal scene, solidifying characters and foreshadowing things to come. Over time, Paul becomes a fully realized character as Myracle constructs a movingly nuanced portrait of a boy, then young man. Paul shares his constant thoughts about girls, their bodies, hooking up, and masturbation in vivid detail while showing them respect, articulating the difference between lust and love, and referencing his mother's advice. VERDICT Myracle's depiction of Paul, his deep friendship with Roby, his relationship with his mom, and his first love with Natalia (a strong and multidimensional young woman) will snag readers, both reluctant and voracious, as they root for each of them to make it through the difficult realities of life, high school, and love.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2020
    An authentic coming-of-age novel follows a teenage boy through the ups and downs of four years of high school. Paul Walden lives with his divorced mother in the small town of Brevard, North Carolina. In freshman seminar, Paul bonds with Roby Smalls over their disdain for a popular guy in school who gives a drawn-out (supposedly motivational) presentation that includes details about lobster sex. As Paul and Roby start hanging out, they become fast friends, and then, in sophomore year, Roby's beautiful neighbor Natalia Gutierrez joins their crew. Even though Paul knows Roby has a crush on her, Paul eventually starts dating Natalia, splintering their friendship. As Paul progresses through high school, the tone changes drastically from naiveté and friendship to lust and drugs--and a tragedy in senior year propels the end of the book forward at a breakneck pace. Myracle (Under the Moon, 2019, etc.) has created compelling characters who make believably flawed choices. Through well-crafted dialogue and prose, the narrative highlights the ordinary, everyday moments and conversations that take up Paul's life. Paul's intimate first-person narration holds nothing back, including frank discussions of masturbation and sex as well as a raw depiction of prescription drug addiction. Paul and Roby are presumed to be white while Natalia is cued as Mexican American. A gritty and powerful story. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 17, 2020
    Divided into four sections, each representing one high-school year, this coming-of-age novel chronicles teenage Paul Walden’s progression from naive freshman to senior navigating crisis and addiction. During the first three sections, he comes across as a stereotypical, if witty, privileged adolescent male whose small world revolves around girls, designer goods, and video games and rap music, interests he shares with his best friend, Roby Smalls. Paul’s problems are minor: his single mother is supportive, he has ready access to the porn and weed that he enjoys, and even when he betrays Roby by dating his crush, their rift is short-lived and easily resolved. It isn’t until senior year, when Paul experiences a
    personal tragedy, that he reckons with harsh realities about happenstance and fate, turning to a range of prescription drugs to escape his emotional pain. Myracle (Under the Moon) gives a frank depiction of Paul’s grief, rapid physical decline, and arduous journey to recovery that casts a new light on Paul’s previously carefree adolescence, offering a universality to the cautionary tale. Ages 14–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Apr.)

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2020
    Grades 9-12 Paul and Roby are best friends and have been since they were freshmen in high school. Their friendship is tested when Paul falls in love with beautiful Natalia, upon whom Roby has a major crush, but it survives. Paul tells their story, which is sometimes eventful, sometimes not, in his own first-person voice as it proceeds through their years in high school. It's when they've become seniors that their world falls apart; something horrible happens, so horrible that it drives Paul to become addicted to benzodiazepines?Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan. His clumsy attempt at withdrawal drives him away from Natalia and into the arms of a girl named Cate, who, like him, is detoxing. But that leads only to his relapsing and the feeling that nothing will help him get clean. Myracle does a superbly vivid job of handling Paul's friendship with Roby, his love for Natalia, and his later addiction. More than a simple cautionary story, this is a deeply felt, highly empathetic exercise in survival and a celebration of friendship.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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