Thursday, October 27, 2016

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy, by Chelsea Philpot

I picked up Be Good Be Real Be Crazyauthor Chelsea Philpot's second book, because I loved Even In Paradise. Unfortunately, this one wasn't nearly as awesome as I hoped.

Shy Homer is impossibly in love with Mia. Impossible because a girl like that could never return his feelings. But being a typical myrtar of unrequitted love, Homer decides to further torture himself by offering to drive his (very pregnant, but not by Homer) dream girl from southern Florida to her new home in Glory-Be-By-The-Sea, a postcard town on the coast of Maine. Accompanying them on their road trip will be Homer's doomsday-obsessed little brother, Einstein who, true to his name, is a certified brainiac. And their mode of transportation? It's ugly, it's smelly, and it's very, VERY yellow. Like, Taxi cab yellow. Homer's mission: To confess his feelings to Mia and, maybe, convince her to stay with him and live happily ever after.

If this sounds like the typical setup for a typical road trip story, you're absolutely right. It is.

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy reads more like a collection of random cliches than a linear story. 

Mia is the stereotypical Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl. She dyes her hair unnatural colors, revels in cloud shapes, shoplifts junk jewelry (but it's ok, because she can charm her way out of trouble), and has a deliberstely mysterious past (because, of course, she's a fabulous liar). She's so quirky she's almost ordinary for a MPDG. She's more caricature than character, and that made her hard to relate to (or even care much about). As a reader, I've encountered so many MPDGs in my literary travels that I'm kind of sick of them. 

Homer and Einstein are equally quirky and have equal amounts of personal baggage, but they're, at least, more sympathetic.

As is typical with road trip stories, Homer, Mia, and Einstein encounter a series of unusual characters, eat bad road trip food, take photos on disposable cameras, and have a series of unfortunate (and also fortunate) things happen to them. Drama and angst and ghosts from the past all come out. 

And then...the bittersweet resolution. 

My overall reaction to Be Good Be Real Be Crazy was lukewarm, at best. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. As far as road trip stories go, there are better ones out there.  Be sure to ask at the Teen Desk for recommendations. --AJB

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