Friday, September 17, 2010

Review/Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford

Friday, September 17, 2010
Meet Will Carter, but feel free to call him Carter.  (Yes, he knows it’s a lazy nickname, but he didn’t have much say in the matter.)

Here are five things you should know about him:

1. He has a stuttering problem, particularly around boobs and belly buttons.

2. He battles Attention Deficit Disorder every minute of every day unless he gets distracted.

3. He’s a virgin, mostly because he’s no good at talking to girls (see number 1).

4. He’s about to start high school.

5. He’s totally not ready.

Join Carter for his freshman year, where he’ll search for sex, love, and acceptance anywhere he can find it.  In the process, he’ll almost kill a trombone player, face off against his greatest nemesis, get caught up in a messy love triangle, suffer a lot of blood loss, narrowly escape death, run from the cops (not once, but twice), meet his match in the form of a curvy drill teamer, and surprise everyone, including himself.

As part of Read-a-Series in September, hosted by Rhina Reads I wanted to read a series by Brent Crawford whose third book in the series is due to be released next summer and is part of the Contemps Challenge. The first book, Carter Finally Gets It, introduces Will Carter, aka. Carter, as he makes the transition from middle school to high school. 

Carter is a very believable and relatable character mainly because he is such a typically adolescent guy. He is definitely flawed but has a vulnerability that is hard to resist. Part of this stems from his lack of confidence, and part of it, his need to fit in and figure out what it means to be an adult and male.

This is a true coming of age story filled with hilarious yet realistic situations occurring every year in the halls of every high schools in the country. Carter wants a girl friend, but at the beginning of the book, this desire is primarily because without one he won’t be able to have sex. When he finally does meet a girl and manages to get to second base, he ends up blowing the relationship with locker room bravado. I found myself both laughing and cringing at Carter’s attempts to figure it all out, and as the title suggests Carter’s mistakes, and the consequences there of, begin to produce growth. In the end, Carter gets out of his own way and the path he takes is quite satisfying for the reader.

While I did enjoy all the humorous escapades of the adolescent males in this story, what I was most impressed with is how Crawford was able to integrate Carter’s philosophical side without losing track of his voice. One example of this occurs after Carter tries to impart some of his sister’s advice on girls to his best friend EJ. The results are painfully funny and Carter sums up the process of growing up with a new found understanding ...

I think some people have got to get hurt. We hurt ourselves, and we hurt others. Some deserve it, while others are just waiting in line to play Ms. Pac-Man. From weight training, I know that when you stress a muscle you’re actually tearing it down, and when it repairs itself, it’s scarred tissue that looks bigger and makes you stronger, so if it’s true that our scars shape who we are and ho we lie life ...EJ and the short girl just learned a big lesson tonight, and they’ll be stronger because of the pain and confusion.

Another example comes at the end when Carter finally understands a truth about himself...

Life has made, and will make, me do a lot of stuff I don’t want to do football, swimming, studying, parties, work, etc. So I think when you tap into something that you really want to do, you have to fight for it, even if the fight is with yourself.

I am very grateful I stumbled upon this series, and I am looking forward to reading Crawford’s second book in the series Carter’s Big Break next. I am also anxious to get this into the hands of my eighth grade boys and get their reactions to the book. I feel I have found a realistic look into teen angst from a guys perspective. Something I need to do more often.


Nomes said...

this sounds so good - i haven't even heard of these books so I'm feeling a little out of the loop...

it's the sort of read that appeals to me - thanks for the review (which was good as always).

Melissa said...

I've never heard of this, but it sounds like a really profound read. Great review, Jan!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

What a great review! I love your including excerpts from the book because I also like to know what kind of writing styles books use. I like coming-of-age stories, but I haven't read many in the recent months, so this sounds really good. Thank you for sharing!

Staci said...

Loved your positive review of this one. I had it marked to pick up for my son and now I will not hesitate because I'm sure he'll enjoy it!

thebookfairyhaven said...

This sounds like a wonderful, wonderful read. I'm glad you also included some quotes because I love the writing for this as well. Lovely review - and will be on the look out for this one for sure!

anjohnston said...

Like you, I really enjoyed this first novel. I thought Carter's voice was funny and authentic and it had some really hilarious moments. I think you made a really good point about the book being able to pull out life's little truth while staying true to Carter's voice. Great review!

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