My Most Excellent Year, at its heart is the story of three friends; TC Keller, Augie Hwong, and Alejandra Perez. When they are assigned the essay “My Most Excellent Year,” they all agree it was their ninth grade year. It was the year TC fell for Alè, the year Augie realized he was falling for another boy, the year Alè moved into a public school and faced her strict, dogmatic parents and their expectations for her. Their story is told alternating points of view between the three teenagers, letters from their parents, letters from friends, IM messages, text messages, emails and more.
It’s about friendship, family, love, coming out, death, grief, baseball, finding acceptance, finding faith, Mary Poppins, Broadway, politics, social activism, show tunes and more. Yet it it’s not overfilled with any of these things. It only leaves you wanting more.
This was the first book I read for my bracket in the Nerds Heart YA tournament and I was almost afraid I’d made a mistake in starting with it. My love for this book is fierce. I, quite simply, adored it. And it all comes down to one thing – Augie.
At first glance, Augie seems like a somewhat stereotypical gay character. He loves old-time Hollywood film stars like Bette Davis, Natalie Wood and Judy Garland. He is a song and dance man; he knows all the Broadway shows. He is obsessed with musical-theater. He is a diva. He somewhat reminded me of Jack on Will and Grace, but younger. And he is so sweet in his confusion as he realizes for the first time that he has fallen in love with another boy. The best part of his story is how everyone and I mean EVERYONE accepts Augie as he is. Many know what he is before he even does and they don’t care. It was refreshing to see Augie accepted for himself and to see him accept himself so easily. No matter your stance on this issue, everyone has the right to be what and who they are, and I felt that this book pictured a world where that was possible.
The other characters are great as well. The characterization in this book was perfect. By the end, I felt as if I knew these characters as well as my own friends and was sad to say goodbye to them at the end. TC, the real main character, was amazing, such a boy, so sure of himself on the outside but inwardly doubting everything. I found it so touching how he wrote to his mother in his assigned diary and the way he befriended Hucky, the six-year-old deaf kid who in turn taught TC so much about life. I loved how Alè faced her parents and their desires for her life that went so against her own. All these characters were so bright, so passionate and alive – it’s hard not to love this book and I highly recommend it.
Come back tomorrow for my review of The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon, my second read for the Nerds Heart YA challenge!
Here is the post where Valentina reviewed her two books for her bracket, and pushed My Most Excellent Year on through to me.
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