The Great American Whatever

The Great American Whatever

Book Information

Simon and Schuster March 2016
Character-Building Curriculum

Laugh out loud, rolling on the floor funny, comic, hysterical, laughter ensues, if I had just drank chocolate milk I would probably shoot it out my nose, side-splitting, slap yo mama funny! Tim Federle is the real deal. He can write comedy if he ever needs a side job, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.

The Great American Whatever is the perfect teen angst book of 2016 and Quinn the perfect "every" boy. When Quinn's beloved older sister dies in a horrific (is there any other kind?) car accident, Quinn takes grief and self blame to a whole new level. He stays in his room, not moving, not eating, not bathing, not reading or watching television, not doing anything. For months. His mother tries to rouse him, but with her own failure as both a mother and wife, she is wallowing in self pity herself. The world as they both know it has changed in an instant. Lucky for Quinn, he has a great friend who won't take no for an answer. Geoff literally drags Quinn out the door and to a party.

Quinn meets a cute boy and is excited when the boy gives him a note with his phone number on it. Too bad Quinn can't find his cell phone. He has not seen it in months. Since that terrible night when he got his last text from his sister, right before she died. The book is full of grief, but Federle makes grief hysterically funny.

Quinn goes on a date with cute boy Amir and gets drunk. The next day, Quinn says, "This is the kind of hangover people write horror movies about, movies that are never funded because they're too graphic....a hangover feels like...a sledgehammer eloped with a swing set and they honeymooned in your head."

Once he is able to tell his story out loud to Amir, Quinn is able to forgive himself and move on. He will always feel a void where his sister/film maker/director used to be, but when he discovers that his dream was not her dream, it is an a-ha moment.  Quinn sees life through the script of a movie. It has been his dream to write and produce films and he now has the chance to go to film school. Another quirk that sets Quinn apart is his love of movies--all types of movies from old black and white, to spaghetti westerns, to horror. He gives teen readers ideas on what movies to be sure and see. Hopefully they will take notice.

If Hollywood can get the right writers (Tim Federle, maybe?) The Great American Whatever would be a fantastic teen movie or even a comic sit-com.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature situations, profanity.

Recommended by:  Pamela Thompson, MLIS, Library Media Specialist

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