Be Good Be Real Be Crazy

272p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper Teen. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062293725.
Gr 8 Up—A thought-provoking, meandering love story that defies the heart palpitations so prevalent in the teen romance genre. The setting for this literary gem is a road trip in which Homer, accompanied by Einstein—his genius younger brother—is taking Mia, the pregnant girl with whom Homer has fallen in love, to the last known address of her foster sister. With careful attention to plot, Philpot introduces stops along the way in which the trio meet fascinating characters—who all have their own tales that are elaborated in parables found interspersed throughout the plot. These background snippets cleverly aid in building readers' appreciation of the uniqueness of each character. The author introduces diversity in gender identity and family structure organically and in a way that demonstrates the many layers of love. In defiance of happy endings everywhere, the end of the road signals a shift in the burgeoning romantic relationship between Homer and Mia. This is a novel to be savored and experienced, with characters who are every bit as quirky as those introduced in John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil sans some of Berendt's more adult scenes.
VERDICT Readers who delight in beautifully complex characters and evocative plots will be drawn to this work, but it is not a title that will circulate widely without librarian or educator intervention.

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