Barbara's Reviews > What Boys Really Want

What Boys Really Want by Pete Hautman
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May 07, 2012

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bookshelves: families, ncbla2013, romance, school, writing
Read in May, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I almost always enjoy the books of Pete Hautman because they are fast-paced, honest, and provocative. The witty exchanges among his characters seem honest and authentic and not pretentious and more clever than anyone has a right to be. He almost always hits the mark when describing teens and high school, and this one, while not as incredible as Godless, his National Book Award winner, is satisfying and made me laugh while also providing insight into what makes others tick. The premise here is that Lita and Adam are long-time friends. As soon as I realized that, I steeled myself for one of those stories about how they eventually realize that they are meant to be more than friends, but (happily) that's not the case here. As the storyline moves to its conclusion, it quickly becomes clear that although the two are friends, they haven't always been honest with each other. Lita, who loves to write, has never told Adam that she's actually blogging as acerbic advice columnist Miz Fitz and that she has often plotted to wreck his previous romantic entanglements and plans to do the same with his current attraction to Blair Thompson, a girl she judges as a skank because of her appearance. Adam, on the other hand, fails to tell Lita that he's writing a book about what boys really want, and that many of the ideas in the book have been taken from other writers, including the blog Lita writes. In many respects, this book is about assumptions about others, close calls and near misses and miscommunication or failure to communicate. It's about the daily drama that is high school, and if Lita is high strung and more emotionally unbalanced than might be desired, Adam himself seems clueless about basic ethical issues such as plagiarism. Although some might disagree, I liked how Lita justifies her own actions as being for the good of others, leaving her smug and clueless while readers know that she's heading for a fall. Perhaps while fooling herself, she ends up fooling no one in the end, a lesson worth considering by us all.
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