Flannery's Reviews > My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
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Jul 13, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: tbr-scb-2011, young-adult-teen, i-want-to-go-to-there, read-in-2011, reviewed-2011, wishlist-for-dtbs-to-keep
Recommended to Flannery by: Teccc
Recommended for: Anyone whose heart is feeling a little iced over

I miss Boston. I miss walking through the Commons in the fall, drinking on roof decks in the summertime, riding the T and just getting off at random stops, shoveling my car out, pumpkin ale, my book club besties, Fenway franks, that feeling that a bar gets when a Dropkick Murphys song comes on, and perusing the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. Hell, I even miss the frakking BU students who ride the green line and the 57 TWO STOPS instead of just walking. This book almost made me physically sick with nostalgia. That’s the kind of hold Boston can exert over a person--and I only lived there for a few years. I loved this book. It filled the Boston-shaped hole in my heart.

The author blurb on Goodreads does not tell me where Steve Kluger grew up, but if it isn’t Boston/Brookline, I’ll eat my own hand. Alright, don’t worry too much about me, I’m back from visiting his website and he lives in Boston. I’m glad I checked him out because it confirms something else I'd been thinking—this book is very close to Kluger’s heart. He wrote what he knows and is passionate about and did a fabulous job of it. I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and speculative/dystopian fiction. All of these genres are fun to read but I rarely connect with them on an emotional level. Young adult books often get a bad rap but I honestly can't think of an adult book that has moved me the way that several YA books (most recently this one and The Piper's Son, which I can't recommend highly enough) have--especially lately.

What do an Asian gay teenager, a (view spoiler) orphan, a single dad, the Hispanic daughter of a diplomat, Julie Andrews, and a same-sex couple, one of whom is a Congresswoman have in common? That's right, they are all characters in this book. People on the lookout for absolute realism should probably give this one a skip but I truly think they would be missing out. This book is about the little magical moments in life and it would be a shame if a reader couldn't just run with the story on this one. After all, we're supposed to be the dreamers, aren't we? Back to the story: TC Keller (Anthony Conigliaro Keller) is named for a famous Red Sox player, as are many other members of his extended family, including his father, Teddy. (after Ted Williams of baseball AND tunnel fame in Beantown) After losing his mother at age six, TC became best friends and brothers (of a sort) with Augie Hwong. Fast forward to high school and the two are now writing a school essay about their "most excellent year." (freshman year) Still best friends, the two are joined in their essay-writing by Alejandra Perez, TC's crush who recently moved to Brookline when her father accepted a position at Harvard.

The story is told in epistolary fashion and I think it is the better for it. Because we not only have sections of Augie, TC, and Alé's essays, but also snippets of news articles, IM coversations, parent/teacher conference transcripts,and letters, we get a feel for so many side characters. One of the best things about this book, if not THE best part, is how you get a feel for the community--not only the family members but also the school, the neighborhood and Red Sox Nation. Boston has a very community feel to it to begin with and I loved how the book really hit home (pun intended) on that note. I've lived all over the place but there aren't many cities where it is totally normal to go to little league or pick-up baseball games if you aren't a kid and don't have a kid on the team. And Kluger takes readers all over the city on dates and adventures. He just gets it.

This book is a wonderful example of getting relationships right. Parental relationships, lifelong friendships. sibling relationships (whether blood or otherwise), and I think the most moving relationship was that of mentor/big brother. I think Hucky Harper might be one of my favorite characters ever. TC first sees Hucky, a six-year old boy, watching his baseball game. After Hucky gives TC the pitch calls when TC is at bat with stunning accuracy, TC befriends him and they form an adorable relationship. Hucky, for the depressing reason in the spoiler above, is orphaned. (not at all depressing in itself but only because he was in the foster system because of it) He hasn't spoken to anyone in over a year and spends most of his time watching Mary Poppins. While the book is about what made that specific year the most excellent for TC, Augie, and Alé, I know it will be far up there in Hucky's life as well. The extent to which everyone in TC's life went to bring Hucky into their fold was heartwarming.

The blurb about this book indicates that it is about young love. I mean, I guess it is. Both Augie and TC spend most of their year developing meaningful relationships with classmates. When it comes down to it, I cared much more about the secondary storylines in this one. But don't get me wrong--I loved every bit of it.

The bottom line is that this book made me want to move back to Boston, find a cool house in Brookline, and start procreating.

SCB TBR Challenge; April - Teccc. Thanks!

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Reading Progress

July 13, 2009 – Shelved
April 25, 2011 – Started Reading
April 25, 2011 –
page 68
April 25, 2011 –
page 68
April 26, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-50 of 57) (57 new)

message 1: by Kristy (new) - added it

Kristy I haven't heard much about this one... looking foward to your review :)

Catie Reading this right now!

message 3: by TK421 (new)


message 4: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica Awesome review, Flann!

message 5: by Nomes (new)

Nomes Oooh ~ I have this one (thanks to Olivia's rave :)

Haven't cracked it open yet but planning to read it n May :D

Love the review ~ love all the little Boston-esque vibes about it :)

Flannery I'm so excited for you to read it, Nomes. We've been having similar taste lately so I bet you will love it:) *fingers crossed*

message 7: by Vinaya (new)

Vinaya I've never been to Boston, and yet I suddenly find myself feeling nostalgic. Great review Flann - I think that might be one of the best opening paras I've ever read!

Janina I should finally buy this! Olivia and Teccc have been recommending it for ages ... Great review :).

message 9: by Nic (new)

Nic What Janina said ^^.

Brilliant review :)

oliviasbooks It produces that warm lovely feeling in your guts, Janina.

message 11: by Milo (new)

Milo I'm one of those BU students...

Catie Flannery, you make me feel like such a heartless scrooge for not getting this book, :) I love your review though!

I actually lived in Boston (Needham) from age 3-9, but I don't remember too much of it. Maybe I need to go back for a visit.

Flannery One of my best friends grew up in Needham, Scrooge. Unless you are just giving this one 4 stars to make me feel better, at least you still "really liked it."

@Milo--WALK. Oh, and good luck on your finals:) Go eat a hot dog for me.

message 14: by Milo (new)

Milo Will do.

Catie Well, I actually gave it 3 1/2, but I marked it as four because I feel that it deserves it. It's better than the majority of other crap that's out there! Yay for Needham!

Teccc Great review!

message 17: by Morgan (new) - added it

Morgan F You reminded me how excited I am to go to BU next year.

Don't worry, Milo, I will totally be one of those lazies too. Who needs walking when you have convenient public transportation?

oliviasbooks Me. I rather start walking than having to wait five minutes for a bus. Waiting makes me antsy.

message 19: by Morgan (new) - added it

Morgan F I am totally against physical activity. It is a wonder why I am not 200 pounds. Once my metabolism slows, I shall become blimp-like, I assure you. Then I might consider walking...

Flannery You'll see how frustrating it was for me, Morgan. I had to ride the 57 bus from Kenmore Square all the way to Brighton so it was super frustrating to have to stop at EVERY STOP along Comm Ave for the BU kids. And there is no way the B Line needs to have stops at every light. Blaaaah. I am so so so excited for you, though:) I hope you love it.

message 21: by Morgan (new) - added it

Morgan F I'm sure I will. Thanks :)

I should read this book in preparation....

message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Roberts I love your reviews, Flannery. You are so ALIVE!

Flannery Thanks, Graeme. I do have an affinity for adventures and memory-making. In the case of book reviews, I fall on the side of explaining how a book made me feel rather than remaining as objective as possible.

message 24: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Roberts Flannery wrote: "Thanks, Graeme. I do have an affinity for adventures and memory-making. In the case of book reviews, I fall on the side of explaining how a book made me feel rather than remaining as objective as p..."

Great! A kind and thoughtful sharing of your talents and interests.

message 25: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Added this to my TBR. I went to Boston for work and I got lost at every turn. It was miserable... I need to go back and have someone else drive so I can enjoy it more.

Flannery LOL, sorry it tricked you--there is no rhyme or reason to the one-way streets and the layout. You should just take the T everywhere--it goes everywhere you'd want to go:) You should go once Morgan is all used to it!

message 27: by Morgan (new) - added it

Morgan F Everytime I go to Boston with my mother, we get lost. Although we have found a lot of interesting stuff that way. The sad thing is that she went to college in Boston, but she still needs the Citgo sign to find her bearings.

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Every time someone likes this review or comments on it, and it ends back up in my update feed. The first couple lines catch my eye and I hate where I live.

Flannery :( Let's find a book about how amazing it is to live in Oklahoma! There has to be one out here, right?

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Umm, I'm trying to think of one thing the characters would do in such a book...zombies maybe

Flannery Whoa, I had no idea that The Outsiders was set in Oklahoma. Where the heck have I been?

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Ok! that's something isnt it?! I feel better already

Catie P.C. Cast writes cheesy romances...all set in Oklahoma. I kid you not! Probably not what you're looking for though.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

tempted ...but no

Catie Yes, I've read quite a few of them *blushes* but I admit most of them aren't great.

Flannery The House of Night ones? Or other ones? I read the first one or two HoN ones (also set in Oklahoma) but I don't know that they make Oklahoma any more cool:-/

But The Outsiders does! Ponyboy and Sodapop?

Catie Her other ones - starting with Divine By Mistake (which is actually pretty good) and moving on from there. They get progressively worse.

House of Night is dead to me :)

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I have a real fondness for the Outsiders. I'm liking that it takes place in OK. I'm really going to use this new fact.
The Outsiders was read aloud by my 6th grade teacher everyday after recess, and at the end I cried and the other kids teased me for crying.
"Stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold"

message 39: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey The Grapes of Wrath, Pigs in Heaven, Where the Heart Is, Sacred Ground, Intertwined and I think, Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series are all set in Oklahoma.

Plus, Brad Pitt was born in Oklahoma. Carrie Underwood, Kristen Chenoweth, Bill Hader and James Marsden are all from OK.

It's no SO bad. Geez.

message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited May 02, 2011 08:45PM) (new)

*eyes rolling* @ Lyndsey

Flannery Lyndsey is just trying to cheer you both up! Oklahoma ain't that bad! Just think of all that...flat land!

message 42: by [deleted user] (new)


message 43: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey I don't know anyone who actually says Yeehaw. And if you say it on a regular basis, you and I need to have a sit down.

message 44: by [deleted user] (last edited May 02, 2011 09:04PM) (new)

I thought it was an okie thing to do?!

message 45: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey Little known fact: An Okie is actually someone that has left Oklahoma.

But I guess you can say Yeehaw if you want... whatever floats your wagon across the river.

message 46: by [deleted user] (last edited May 02, 2011 09:13PM) (new)

In that case, I aspire to be an Okie. I want to go to Boston or somewhere cool.

But stop bothering me, I'm reading The Piper's Son

And I don't nor do I ever want to say Yeehaw. Just me mocking the Sooner State :)

message 47: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey Oh! Well go read. I've heard it's amazing. ;-)

message 48: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Just ordered it! I couldn't resist after reading your most excellent review. We are shoveling snow here (8 degrees outside right now), and my guess is they are doing the same, or soon will be. Cheers, Jim

message 49: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim I got it, I started reading it, and I really like it! He had me hooked after the first page...

message 50: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim I loved it! Didn't know much about most of the Boston locations, but that didn't bother me in the slightest. At least, I have eaten at Legal Sea Foods..

Your review nailed it in every way. Thanks!

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