Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery -- Susan Juby
For years at Harewood Tech, the girls have lived in fear of being D-listed. The Defiled aren't simply made unpopular: they're made to disappear. Other students don't speak their names, interact with them, even look at them.
When Sherman Mack suspects that his crush, Dini Trioli, may become the next victim, he decides that it's time for a change. His mission? To discover the identity (or identities!) of the Defiler (or Defilers!)... and put an end to the tradition, once and for all.
I LOVED THIS BOOK.
What I'd really like to do is just quote a ton of it to explain why, but if I quoted all of the bits I marked, I'd end up quoting most of the book. So just know that Getting the Girl is a stand out. One of the very few that I've read recently.
One of my favorite things about it was that it did not contain even a single solitary microscopic droplet of angst. I mean it. Not a one. Sherman is sensitive, but not in that his feelings are easily hurt or that he's mushy or deep or a dreamer*. He's sensitive in that he cares about other people.
Sherman's voice is sometimes deadpan, sometimes sarcastic and always original. He tends toward the literal in a way that just killed me. I read this entire book with a huge grin plastered across my face, and it was mostly due to how much I loved him. He's a small guy—one of the incredibly attractive girls from his school thinks he's twelve, though he's almost fifteen—but, like Summer Roberts, he suffers from rage blackouts:
The problem is that when I lose it I also kind of lose the ability to make good judgment calls. I am similar to the Incredible Hulk in that way.
He's being raised by his mom, who had him when she was sixteen, has given up on dating, and spends most of her free time dancing burlesque:
Thinking about my first case got me quite depressed, which my mother noticed as soon as I walked in the door. She may be abnormally youthful and obsessed with an inappropriate hobby, but you could never say she doesn't care about me. Other than her bad taste in names, clothing, dance style, and home decor, my mother is basically a good person.
Rather than go on and on, I'm just going to say it again: I LOVED THIS BOOK. Despite the swearing, the drugs and Sherman's body's tendency to physically display his appreciation for the ladies, this book felt really, really... wholesome. Susan Juby's affection for Sherman comes through on every page, as does Sherman's affection for his friends, his mother and his mentor. Highly recommended for anyone who's over The Angst, anyone who loves crime fiction and would enjoy a book that pokes fun at the genre, anyone who's in need of a book that feels like the literary equivalent of a hug.
*Though he does have a tendency to get a bit tangential.