Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim FederleThe Great American Whatever
Author: Tim Federle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA
Pages: 278
Format: Hardback
Source: Borrowed from the library
Buy on Amazon | Buy from Publisher

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything.

Enter: Geoff, Quinn’s best friend, who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—okay, a hot guy—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

Tim Federle’s beautiful YA debut is laugh-out-loud sad; a wry, winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories, one unscripted moment at a time. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)


A Bit Back and Forth

For some reason, my opinion of The Great American Whatever kind of went back and forth a lot. I liked the humor right from the beginning, but then it seemed to be too clever. The main character, Quinn, would think about how he was “so awkward” but he constantly had witty comebacks for everything. And then some parts had me writing “eye roll” in my notes, although I DO NOT roll my eyes IRL because I think it’s really rude. But the book just seemed to be annoying me a lot.

I really didn’t like the fat shaming in the book. At one part, Quinn gets angry at someone else for fat shaming someone, and he stands up for that person and does something nice for them, but anytime he mentions his mother in the narration, he talks about how she makes the whole house move when she walks or “she is a beautiful woman but also a large woman.” Like what? Quinn also shames his best friend for the clothes he wears. I mean, I get it, these things happen. People fat shame. They judge people for their clothing. And who judges about clothing more than a teenager? But Quinn calls other people out for fat shaming and yet it’s never once acknowledged that he himself fat shames his mother. 

But then there were other parts, parts that made me literally LOL: “As if party games are known for their fairness. As if that’s the chief quality that gets people hooked on the party game circuit.” And then there was a spoiler for another (very popular) book. Thanks for that, Federle. It was like this most of the book. Back and forth, back and forth. I enjoyed it, it made me angry. And right away I figured out the THING that he wouldn’t mention. But Tim Federle does get 50,000 of my Bonus Points for a reference to one of my favorite movies, Memento.

I don’t know. I just had a lot of mixed emotions with this one, so I’m going to give it 3 stars. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either, and I had some definite issues with it. I do know there are a lot of people out there that really enjoyed it, but to me, it was kind of…Whatever.


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