Wise Young Fool
Summary From Goodreads:
Teen rocker Ritchie Sudden is pretty sure his life has just jumped the shark. Except he hates being called a teen, his band doesn’t play rock, and “jumping the shark” is yet another dumb cliché. Part of Ritchie wants to drop everything and walk away. Especially the part that’s serving ninety days in a juvenile detention center.
Telling the story of the year leading up to his arrest, Ritchie grabs readers by the throat before (politely) inviting them along for the (max-speed) ride. A battle of the bands looms. Dad split about five minutes before Mom’s girlfriend moved in. There’s the matter of trying to score with the dangerously hot Ravenna Woods while avoiding the dangerously huge Spence Proffer–not to mention just trying to forget what his sister, Beth, said the week before she died.
Wise Young Fool, Sean Beaudoin’s latest release, is hilarious, mind blowing and is every great aspect of Beaudoin’s past work rolled into one crazy tale. The buildup is a bit slow but once you reach the meaty middle and the epic ending (apparently I’m in a wordplay mood) it’s all worth it. While the book is filled with humor there are plenty of serious issues discussed and that gives some weight to an otherwise light piece.
Wise Young Fool bounces back and forth between the main character, Ritchie Sudden’s, past and present. In the present he is in juvie and is being forced to write in a journal every day. In his journal entries, or past (depending on which makes more sense to you as the reader), Ritchie is working on starting a band and spends much of his time either playing his guitar or chasing Ravenna Woods, his crush, in the hopes that she will notice him.
Ritchie’s character is a mixture of very heavy sarcasm and not-so-deeply buried pain over the loss of his sister. He’s witty and clever but often uses those traits to his detriment rather than to benefit him in some way. Ritchie isn’t a lovable character, but he is certainly an identifiable one. He’s that guy who is cool without being part of the “in” crowd. He’s the one you know is destined for something awesome if he can just get out of his own way, but you don’t want him to lose that edge because you’d be losing a piece of Ritchie at the same time. I enjoyed learning about Ritchie and why he acts the way he does. He’s a deeper character than you could ever imagine, I’m a fan just like everyone else (in the book).
The romance in this book, to me at least, is the embodiment of all that teenage romance is and can be. There is the guy chasing after the gorgeous girl while making an ass of himself more often than not, the girl who really likes him that he ignores until it suits his purposes, and steamy goodness (don’t worry, Beaudoin doesn’t go into detail, this is YA) despite it all. Hormones rage, tempers flare, communication fails are abundant and the hot girl always gets what she wants, or at least thinks she wants. It may sound like a bunch of cliches but in Wise Young Fool it just feels honest. This is what teenagers, myself included, often experience in high school and the way Beaudoin displays the awkwardness that is teenage romance is perfect.
The references to different (and awesome) bands are abundant and the journey Ritchie takes as both a musician and a person can be linked to the songs mentioned each step of the way. The depth Beaudoin goes into to describe the process of becoming and being in a band is fantastic. The struggles are intense from infighting to romance conflicts and even into stylistic differences, Wise Young Fool has it all covered.
The parts of the book where Ritchie is in juvie provides extra depth for his character, shows where he ends up as a person and even touches on what life might be like for troubled teenagers in a detention center. As with most things it is a place that both helps and hinders progress for the inhabitants and that’s made clear in the piece. The time spent in Ritchie’s present aren’t as fast paced or filled with quite the hilarity as in his journal entries/past, but there are necessary elements and cool stuff that I did enjoy. It was a nice way to break up the insanity of the rest of the book.
Overall Wise Young Fool is another really strong and well written piece that I am thrilled to add to my collection o’ Beaudoin. While his other work certainly covers a wide array of topics and issues, Wise Young Fool, to me, is the best and most pure representation of any group of humanity, in this case teenagers/young adults. The book is hilarious as are all of Beaudoin’s works, and I couldn’t get enough. The messages that are covered are deep and will definitely make you think which is pretty impressive considering this is mostly a humor piece. Ritchie is a great MC, the supporting cast is really well done and the references to bands and music culture are spot on. I highly recommend it. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #128/200