Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Black Book: Diary of a Teenage Stud, Vol. I

HarperTeen, 2001
240 pages
3.5 out of 5

"Not since American Pie has there been a more honest portrayal of the American teenage boy and his desires." -- Honor Elspeth "Honey" Black

"Fantasy and reality are all the same to Jonah Black.  Freud would have had a field day."  -- Dr. Leonard Larue, Ph.D.

"And all this time I thought Jonah didn't even like girls.  The man's a Casanova!" -- Thorne Wood

"Jonah Black has no idea what a stud he really is."  -- Posie Hoff

Volume I details Jonah's crash-and-burn reentry into the high school society and family he left behind two years before.

Seventeen year old Jonah is returning to his home town in Palm Beach Florida after two years at a private school in Pennsylvania.  Jonah was expelled from Masthead Academy, but won't reveal the reason to his friends.  He simply lets them believe the rumors going around; none of which seem to be true.  But coming home creates more problems for Jonah and his senior year is not what he expected.

Writing is one of his favorite past times and he has a tendency to lose himself in his work.  The novel is structured as a diary, with the chapters delineated by the date and time if he writes more than once in a day.  Occasionally, Jonah's writing turns from real life to that of fantasy.  One moment he'll be writing about being stuck in class and then drift to a story where the teacher body-slams him for not paying attention.

This novel was a little confusing with the way daydreams and reality merge and intertwine, especially in the beginning.  The daydreams ebb and flow throughout the novel and although it is very obvious when he is daydreaming, Jonah strikes me as an unreliable narrator.  I can't help but wonder if he's telling the truth about seemingly "normal" activities.

I often found myself furrowing my eyebrows during Jonah's and his sister's (Honey) conversations.  At times they feel like typical brother/sister interactions, but at other times it feels a little strange.  Usually I was thinking, "I would never have a conversation like that with my brother."  But I do like the various names she calls him; though strange, they are endearing.

Jonah's voice occasionally strikes me as odd because some of his fantasies seem more appropriate for a bodice-ripper novel instead of the sexual fantasies of a seventeen year old boy.  The other characters fit the bill of typical high schoolers, but manage to do so without falling flat.  Each has his or her own distinct personality.

Overall, I did like this novel.  I know I've been a little nit-picky, but it was a fun read.  I think I'm going to hunt down the sequel.

*Title is currently out of print (oops); the link is to Shelfari.

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