Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retelling
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017, #DebutAuthorChallenge
Tom Grendel was one of the few residents in his quiet neighborhood, who was under the age of 60. He led a quiet life providing gardening services to all the fine widows of his community and recording their life stories. This was the perfect residence for Grendel and his father, an Army veteran, who was suffering from PTSD, UNTIL the Rothgars moved in next door. In an unneighborly fashion, Rex and Wolf threw very loud blow-out parties EVERY night. As he tried to maintain his father's sanity, Tom plotted to thwart their party efforts, and thus, the prank war was born.
My life had exactly three phases: before Mom, after Mom but before Dad/Iraq, and my current post-Dad/Iraq period. Frankly, I hoped this phase would go on for a while. I wasn't really up for many more defining moments.First and foremost, this book was so much fun. The characters were witty. The banter was whip-smart, and I laughed heartily and often. But, it wasn't all just fun and games, there was a lot of really deep and heartfelt stuff in there too. The whole premise was quite heartening, that Tom wanted to eradicate the threat to his father and was trying to protect the only parent he had left. I often found a lump in my throat, whenever the subject arose. He felt this immense pressure to be the perfect son, so as to reduce his father's stress. It was a heavy weight for a a 17-year-old, who was dealing with his own issues, to bear.
Here's the thing. You can't pull any more stunts like you pulled today. Do you understand me? In a couple of hours we're going to send him home and you need to be a model kid from here on out.The prank war was pretty hilarious. It was rooted in the best intentions, but it escalated to an obscene level quite quickly. At first, it was just Ed and Tom doing battle against the Rothgars, but then Tom's sister, Zipora, joins the ranks and she has a score to settle with Wolf.
"And then," I said, miming an explosion with my hands, "guile."
"Does guile involve jazz hands?"
"Those were not jazz hands. That was an explosion."
I am all about the characters in a story, and Kaplan provided us with a wonderful group of characters. Tom was an adorable and lovable MC. He was a good neighbor, friend, brother, and son. He was quirky, funny, loyal, honest, and tenderhearted. I just wanted to scoop him up and give him a great big hug.
"The human mind," Zip said seriously, "is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. It's a veritable turducken of unknowability."Tom's immediate social circle was rather small, but rather awesome. His sister Zipora was this complex, funny, hot-mess. She was grappling with her own issues, but she was learning from her mistakes and taking steps to improve her situation. The other important person is Tom's life was Ed. The bromance between this two was one for the ages. From their "meet cute" to how Ed was just always just a phone call away, this was a friendship which all people should strive for.
They stood with walkers, canes, and orthopedic shoes, and as one, they were pissed.I. Loved. Tom's. Neighbors. There was just such a genuine bond between him and his ladies. He looked after them, but they also looked after him. It was very sweet the way he would come to their aid and they way they came to his.
"I think you are absolutely dead strange, Tom."
"And I like that you're dead strange."
I laughed. "I am not your manic pixie dream boy, Willow Rothgar. I serve only myself."
There was a little bit of romance going on there between Willow and Tom. He had been pining for her for several years, and she was finally reciprocating. They shared some very special and tender moments, and I thought Kaplan made an interesting statement with where she brought that romance.
Overall: A fun and touching story of a boy's journey as he works through his grief, as he reconnects with his father, and as he tries to preserve his mother's memory, filled with laugh-out-loud pranks, and some amazing friends to help him along the way.
**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book
Have you ever been involved in an epic prank-war?
Let us know in the comments!