22 February 2011

Magic and Misery by Peter Marino

This isn’t your typical love triangle.  TJ loves her best friend, Pan ; Pan loves TJ, but he’s gay.  He’s also jealous of TJ’s developing relationship with new boyfriend, Caspar.  Nice-guy Caspar is on the football team, but TJ and Pan have pretty much always been outcasts.  In fact, neither one of them really had any friends before Pan moved into town.  Pan is gay and his name is short for “Pansy,” a clever nickname developed by some of the more clever high school students.  And TJ basically spends most of her life working or helping her parents take care of her baby brother – unfortunately.  Both want to be accepted by others, but neither would think of giving up their self-respect just to be included.  When Caspar shows an interest in TJ, she might actually be able to get just that, but Pan fears he’ll get left behind to fend for himself.

While it might be tough at times to gauge the extent of everyone’s emotional baggage – I mean, attachments – readers can follow along based on what each character tells them.  Everyone is very honest in this novel, both with themselves and each other.  It may not be completely relatable or likely, but it certainly is refreshing not having to constantly second-guess the motivations around each response or reaction.  Recommended to readers who like their coming-of-age fiction to be straight-forward and non-manipulative.
Call number: YA MARINO (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian

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