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Jenny Torres Sanchez's debut novel is fantastic. Her protagonist, Charlie Grisner, is hurting-- and his parents are too wrapped up in themselves to notice. His dad's having an affair and his mom seems trapped in mental illness. Charlie's attracted to Charlotte-- but afraid if she knows the real him, she'll run the other way. His parents are sending him the message that he's unworthy, and he's believing it. Charlie's trying to hold on to a 30 pound weight loss (achieved after his dad sent him to Fat Camp)-- but he's veered into bulimic behavior to do so. I want to take this kid home and give him a break. I can't wait to read more from Jenny Torres Sanchez, a fellow writer and teacher. The world she has created for Charlie is full of authentic characters that teens (and adults) will latch onto and cheer for (Charlie), despise (Mark), want to shake the fool out of (Charlie's dad, mom, and the love interest, Charlotte.) I LOVE the works of Chris Crutcher, Terry Trueman, and Jennifer Brown. And now I can add Jenny Torres Sanchez to my list of favorites. All of this is to say, YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK.
Beth Fehlbaum, author of The Patience Trilogy Hope in Patience
I just finished reading THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE and am completely blown away by how good it was. From the first page, I loved Charlie--he's sweet, he's funny, he has a good story to tell, and his best friend cracks me up. That said, CHARLIE covers some pretty powerful subject matter. Even in the most dire of moments, though, the author's voice infuses Charlie's character with humor and hope, making readers cheer for him while our hearts break over his situation.
I read this book on my Kindle since I took a look at a sample and was immediately hooked, but I'm kind of surprised it's not a hardcover. Because, seriously, this book deserves a Printz Award--it's that amazing.
Charlie Grisner, the main character of this novel, will stay with me for a very long time. The experiences I shared with him on his journey both amused and horrified me. He is such a well-drawn character that I feel that I know him.
I'm always on the lookout for Y/A works that feature male protagonists who don't fall into any of the common stereotypes, such as school jock. Charlie is a "regular guy," battling a weight problem and searching for answers to life's difficult questions, both on a cosmic level and right in his own house.
I recommend this book without reservation. It is a treasure!