Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on April 23, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!
Darren hasn't had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.
Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You is a story told entirely in lists. Lists about Darren’s family, his thought processes, the music he plays, the lunch that he eats, what he tells his therapist…you get the idea. For those of you who love to digest everything in neat, categorical, bite-sized lists, this book would be for you. But for those of you who want to just get to the point of it all, without being told the exact details of a car or a list of the days of the week right in the middle of a story, Me Being Me could be frustrating.
4 Terms for Whatever It Is Darren is Clearly Suffering from Not Ten Minutes After Waking Up
4. Weak kidney energy
Lucky for me, I really like lists, and enjoyed the original storytelling of Me Being Me. It’s amazing how I became invested in Darren’s life, as the book listed out his feelings, sporadic thoughts and fears, adjectives and exchanges, text messages and phone calls. Behind some of the lighter exchanges, are some deep encounters which Darren will have dealing with his parent’s divorce, seeing both of them move on, discovering his dad is gay, re-connecting with his stoner brother in college.
This is one of the most realistic male perspectives I’ve ever read, of a teenager who isn’t particularly verbose. Newsflash, teenage guys don’t just think about sex every waking moment. Conversations are kept short, without fear of going too deep. Darren manages to avoid every topic that could lead to meaningful discussions…which makes him pretty hard to sympathise with, or get to know. I find it hard to describe Darren to you, upon finishing this 600 page book other than surly and actually kind of average.
Only it’s not Zoe, or the Zoe he remember, but a warm, friendly, funny, and extroverted Zoey, a Zoey other regular, normal human beings would approve of and know what to do with, a Zoey who wouldn’t indirectly turn him into a smoker or disappear on him or break his dim-witted, gullible heart.
I couldn’t see the obsession with Zoe though, who Darren has an encounter with early in the book and continues to pine over for the bulk of it. Even though there’s a lot going on in his life, he is always thinking about Zoe. Zoe is dark, angsty and clearly has more than a few issues of her own, so I really couldn’t see what was so great about her. Especially when Darren kept on wanting her to be different or to change in his mind. But perhaps there was something in her that Darren could really relate to.
More than once, Me Being Me made me raise my eyebrows about the liberty of pot smoking in the book. I know it happens, and I know it’s out there, but seriously, to that degree? I don’t enjoy reading about people getting high all the time. It’s just not for me.
Although Nate was a grounding force to Darren’s life, from time to time he would say a few ignorant phrases about their gay dad that I found quite offensive.
Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You is a novel and interesting way of telling a story. The lists were creative and well-thought out, although there were times when we were given a bit too much information that didn’t seem to add too much value to the story. Despite not being invested in the romance, pot smoking and some of it’s characters, I enjoyed the honest male perspective. But if you take the lists away and look at the overall story? Nothing spectacular.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me this book for review.