Review of I Love You, Beth Cooper by

Book cover for I Love You, Beth Cooper

I finished this book in three hours. From page one, Larry Doyle creates an eerily familiar depiction of high school, specifically that moment when you look back during your graduation and realize you're finally free and have your whole life ahead of you--and it's scary.

Doyle's wit sets us off on a one-night odyssey that originates from the single question, "What if, instead of delivering an average graduation speech, the valedictorian head of the debate team confesses his love for the head cheerleader? What happens then?" Such a question has many answers, so Doyle takes a fresh path.

This is a book that reads like a movie. It's epic and cinematic and paced like it has scenes rather than chapters. Doyle smartly confines himself to a single night (with a short epilogue) and, with a few digressions, a single storyline. I've tried watching Superbad twice and couldn't get through it. This book succeeded for me where Superbad failed because, unlike that movie, this book employs an intelligent, honest-because-it-hurts sort of humour. Each sentence jabs at one's brain, dredging up specific memories of youth and high school.

I Love You, Beth Cooper could be, at first glance, a typical coming-of-age story about the nerdy smart guy who falls for the popular cheerleader (or for his construction of who the popular cheerleader is). To some extent, it is such a story. But it's not only such a story, and that isn't the aspect of this story that makes it awesome. Rather, it's the fact that in spite of employing such a major trope, the story is never trite, and it never tries to force a redeeming theme on the reader. Instead, anything and everything that could possibly go wrong for the protagonist does. And when things go right, they don't always go right in the way one would expect.

If you're seeking some sort of original umbrella wisdom on the truth about graduating high school and entering the world of adulthood, your mileage may vary with this book. But if you just want to be entertained, then I'll agree with Dave Barry's review: "I'm not saying it will make you laugh out loud. But I am saying that if it doesn't, something is wrong with you."

Engagement

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