Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Stevie, Max, and Sanger: keeping Austin weird.
Stevie Hart is homeschooled, but don’t hold that against her. Sure, she and her best (okay, only) friend, Sanger, will never be prom queens, but that’s just because the Central Austin Homeschool Cooperative doesn’t believe in proms. Or dancing. Still, Stevie and Sanger know how to create their own brand of fun.
Enter Max Garza, the new boy next door. After a near-fatal accident, Max is determined to defy mortality with a checklist: 23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying. Dead set on carrying out fabricated demises ranging from impalement to spontaneous combustion, Max charms Stevie and Sanger into helping him with this two-month macabre mission. But as Stevie finds herself falling for Max, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between his make-believe deaths and her real life.
I really, really liked this book. But…I didn’t review it in time. Then ALA came and went, and now I am sitting here and I don’t think I remember enough to write a coherent review.
Things I liked:
~The writing-This is definitely a character-driven novel. Yeah, there’s a plot, but I think whether or not you like this is going to depend on your attachment to the characters. If you care about them, you’ll like this book. If you don’t, you might find it boring. I really, really liked this author’s middle grade novel, The Water and the Wild, but this is a complete departure from that.
~A different perspective on homeschooling-Kids homeschool for various reasons, and not all are because the parents are religious. Maybe the schools in your district suck. Maybe your kid doesn’t do well in school, etc. This book presents homeschooling in a positive light and in a way that I have not seen before.
~Sanger was wonderful. She was funny, confident, and really unique. She was definitely my favorite character, but my favorite thing about this book was that ALL the characters seemed like real people. They weren’t caricatures, and they were the kind of people that you could find on the next street over, if they were real.
Things I wasn’t sure about:
~The plot was a little weird for me-While I really liked Max, I had some suspension of disbelief issues. And this was a contemporary. I like weird books, but it depends on the KIND of weird. This just went a little too far for me with the whole “faking of 23 deaths” plot.
~The ending-I mean, it was fine, but the book just sort of stopped for me. It was realistic, definitely, but it was forgettable and I prefer my endings to pack a punch.