Starred Review for King of the Screw Ups!

Reviews for an author — at least for this author — can be harrowing. I agonize way in advance. I become utterly convinced that each of my dear baby books is about to be pummeled in public. I pray that the reviews come in early, before I’ve had time to worry too much and then I pray that my editor and agent will be merciful if the review is mean spirited and simply neglect to tell me about it. Those close to me know this agonizing process very well. They say gentle things reminding me that I go through this every time a book is about to hit the shelves and I haven’t sunk into the earth in despair even once yet. My molecules have not disintegrated. The fabric of the space-time continuum has held together.

But given this level of pre-publication jitters, you can imagine how wonderful it feels to receive a starred review. I have been lucky enough to experience this fabulous surprise with quite a few of my books, and trust me, it is a complete and utter surprise every time it happens. You see, what people don’t realize is just how much like Troy (the main character in Fat Kid Rules the World) I am. Except, in books the main character reaches a definitive changing point, whereas in life, we generally muddle along making only incremental changes, experiencing set backs, trying again… life pushes our buttons, and my insecurity buttons are HUGE. They are way bigger than I want anyone else to know.

But sometimes I admit them, and today as I post this starred review of my newest teen novel, King of the Screw Ups, I will admit publically that I have whined and moaned and said the words, “everyone is going to hate this one, I just know it” way too many times, even though this is the exact phrase I have uttered way too many times before the publication of each and every book with my name on it. I have been shamelessly insecure, but now I will shamelessly celebrate the awesomeness of receiving a very cool review.

Here it is (Publisher’s Weekly 2/9/09):

King of the Screwups K.L. Going. Harcourt, $17 (320p) ISBN

Liam Geller’s mother is a retired supermodel, his father a high-powered
CEO. Liam, 17, is a world-class ne’er-do-well. He breaks the camel’s
back when he’s caught in flagrante delicto with a girl on his father’s
office desk and gets kicked out of the house. Liam’s softhearted mother
arranges for him to move in with her husband’s estranged brother, Pete,
a cross-dressing deejay who lives “in a broken-down trailer park in the
middle of nowhere,” per Liam’s father. To regain his father’s approval,
Liam tries to lose his “Mr. Popularity” rep and reinvent himself as
studious and nerdy (he even joins the audio-visual club), but he can’t
hide his charm. Darleen, a hostile classmate Liam tries to befriend,
sees right through him. “You’ll do what you do, which, if I’m guessing
correctly, is to be wildly and naturally popular.” Going’s latest (after
The Garden of Eve) is full of comic moments featuring “Aunt” Pete’s
glam-rock band buddies and Liam’s relentless blunders, as well as his
uncommon fashion expertise (“You’re like a fashion Einstein,” gushes one
of Pete’s friends). Readers-screwups or not-will empathize as Liam,
utterly likable despite his faults, learns to be himself. Ages 12-up.

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