You know what they say, “Nobody’s good at everything, but everybody’s good at something.” What if your “thing”, your big talent, was screwing up over and over again? Meet Liam Geller, King of the Screwups. To be fair, Liam is good at lots of things, like knowing how to put together the perfect outfit, and having girls fall for him, and being Mr. Popularity without even working at it. Unfortunately, none of these things matters to his dad, the super-successful CEO of MoneyVision. He wants Liam to smarten up, stop his “delinquent” behaviour and start seriously thinking about his future. All of this comes to a crisis point when Liam crosses the line in a big way and gets caught in the act. He gets kicked out of the house and his father’s brother, a gay glam-rocker DJ, gives him a place to stay for a while. The place? A trailer in upstate New York. His new roommate? “Aunt” Pete. Liam decides this is exactly the opportunity he needs to become the son his father always wanted. He is going to be a huge nerd and make his father proud… or will he screw that up too?
K.L. Going succeeds brilliantly with King of the Screwups, offering readers pure satisfaction in this hilarious and charming portrait of imperfection. Liam’s story might seem like one you’ve read before, the “coming-of-age / stuck-in-a-small town” narrative that is built for both comic and heart-warming moments, but Going takes it all to a new level. A huge part of the strength of the story is Liam’s voice – he’s sharp, super-funny but still realistic, and self-deprecating. He’s not the only memorable character. “Aunt Pete” is a complete original, and the relationship between uncle and nephew is one of the most entertaining and heartwarming aspects of the novel. This novel offers more than great comedy. It takes a critical look at how parental expectations can damage a kid’s sense of identity and really mess up a family. I also think the book could inspire interesting conversation about definitions of masculinity and what it means to be popular. Bottom line? A book that makes you think and entertains on every page.
King of the Screwups reminded me of the best kind of quirky indie movie, where the character keeps struggling because he can’t get out of his own way, but then in the end, he realizes that his way of doing things has been the right way for him all along. Read King of the Screwups to find out how Liam stumbles his way to enlightenment.
(This post is cross-posted at GuysLitWire)