Friday, July 16, 2010

King of the Screwups by K.L. Going

King of the Screwups

K.L. Going

SUMMARY: Liam Geller appears to live a golden life. He embodies the concept of ‘Mr. Popularity:’ well dressed, very well liked, and attractive. But while Liam is able to gain the attention of the most beautiful girls in school, keep his wardrobe impeccably fashionable, and remain loved by his classmates, he constantly manages to screw up in ways that upset and anger his demanding CEO father the most. When Liam is actually kicked out of the house right before his senior year begins, it is his father’s brother—a gay, glam-rocking DJ—who takes Liam into his trailer in upstate New York and introduces him to a whole new world. Liam decides to use this unexpected turn of events to his advantage and attempts transform himself into the studious, successful ‘nerd’ his father obviously wants him to be. However, his ‘Aunt’ Pete has struggled to be true to himself his entire life and refuses to allow Liam to erase his real personality and interests simply to please someone else.

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I’m pretty sure this book has been on my ‘to read’ list for about a year. And I’m so glad I finally remembered to grab it out of the stacks last week! King of the Screwups is a delightful read with an unconventional male protagonist and a great take on the classic “to thine own self be true” narrative. Liam is an endearing character—a golden boy with a good heart and a complete lack of confidence in his own abilities. Liam’s popularity hasn’t made him arrogant but instead given him the idea that being likable is his only talent. Meanwhile his father’s inability to see beyond his own standards for success and happiness have placed Liam in an inescapable position; he wants desperately to please his father but his father’s constant pressure and displeasure has made Liam gives up. While Liam is quite a lovable character, his father is the opposite: a completely hate-able character.

But while Liam’s difficult relationship with his father is frustrating and saddening to watch, his developing relationship with his ‘aunt’ Pete is exciting to follow. Although the two clash and fight, their interactions are ultimately a source of growth for each. I also really enjoyed the little details Going wove into Liam’s narration, such as the specific fashion brands and modeling information, which build Liam into a more complete and unique character. The narrative is humorous but heartfelt. This fun novel manages to send out a positive message about identity, self-confidence, and individuality without becoming preachy or simplistic. It helps that the characters are generally individualized and well developed and the first-person narration combines winning humor, earnestness, and honesty.

This is a short review but although I greatly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to lots of people, I don’t feel the urge to gush about it for extended lengths of text. So I’ll leave it at this: if you’re in the mood for a fun and ultimately encouraging read, check out King of the Screwups.


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