Book 51: Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo

I read the laugh-out-loud Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo in less than 36 hours, and I suspect you will, too. The first sentence is a bit jarring – “In the past year I masturbated exactly 468 times,” – and will likely force some mothers into putting the book back on the shelf, instead of checking it out/buying it for their teenaged son, but that would be a HUGE mistake. The book is about high school senior Chuck Taylor (hence the “Cons” in the title) who is obsessive-compulsive about a few things. Namely, tallying his masturbation, checking the stove, the lock on his school locker (must be spun 14 times before he can walk away), and peeing 16 times before bed. Oh, and he is obsessively clean. No dust bunnies. No petting animals. And definitely no camping! (Even if the only thing that pulled him through four long years of high school – the Senior Trip – is camping.) Is the title of the book (Lexapro) starting to make sense now?

Chuck is smart, funny, and cute. And that is all according to the new girl, Amy, whom he tutors (in math, his least favorite subject). He falls in love with Amy, and is determined to keep from the beautiful angel who acknowledges his existence his OCD quirks. But that doesn’t quite work out the way he plans, and he is forced into damage control mode. What I like about the book is that although you can see where it’s going to lead, you still read on because you just have to see the good guy win in the end. The author does such a good job of writing a solid novel with loveable characters (and, alternately, quite hateful ones), and makes normal high school situations actually bearable to re-live (or, in the case of teen readers, experience for the first time). This novel would be an excellent introduction for teen boys into high school life, because it would give them a realistic expectation: bullies, unrequited love, loneliness, fears, and authentic friendships.

This story of facing your fears, friendships, and personal growth is absolutely charming, and an excellent read for any young man or verrrry accepting young woman (seriously, the excessive masturbation thing is a bit “eww!”, and I’m 26 years old; I wish the author had brought it up maybe once or twice, not throughout the whole novel).

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