Book To Read - The Great American Whatever - Tim Federle

You need to know that The Great American Whatever is a coming-of-age story about a gay teen struggling with grief and guilt after his sister's death. Author Tim Federle previously has written gay-friendly books for tweens (Better Nate Than Ever), but this book is for an older audience: It has mature themes and sexual content and language (references to "boners" and "getting laid"; some casual swearing, including "s--t" and "f—k"). Quinn, who's trying to avoid wrestling with his feelings and adjusting to a future without his sister, seeks out new, distracting experiences -- such as drinking beer and considering smoking pot and engaging in serious flirting with an older, experienced man. He's embarrassed by his virginity and wants to have a sexual relationship.

The Great American Whatever -  Tim Federle

Book To Read - The Great American Whatever -  Tim Federle

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Quinn Roberts is 16 going on 17, and he's trying not to think about anything at all. Since the death of his older sister -- who also happened to be his best friend and filmmaking partner -- he's stopped going to school, writing his screenplays, showering, or even leaving the home he shares with his mother, who's similarly frozen with grief. When his best friend, Geoff, drags him out to a college party, he meets Amir, an older (and very cute) college student whose flirtatious interest coaxes Quinn out of hiding. Quinn knows how he'd like this story to play out, but he finds that reality tends to stray from his script.


Author Tim Federle has a gift for blending witty humor with pathos to create charming antiheroes, and he brings it all to this touching story about coming out to live life fully and unapologetically. Tragedy pulses through THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER, but it's kept in check by Quinn's irrepressible spirit. He's an observant and self-deprecating narrator, able to laugh at his own insecurities. As his idealized heroes are revealed as flawed -- and more human -- Quinn's faith in himself grows ever stronger.

Some readers may find the sexual content awkward or too edgy, but for most teens Quinn's anxiety over sex and relationships will strike a very familiar chord. It's a classic coming-of-age tale with a very modern sensibility: Quinn is nervous about coming out, but the big reveal proves to be no big deal. His relationship with Amir isn't a love affair for the ages, but it's no less consequential for a boy figuring out how to be his own man.

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