Yoo, David. 2008. Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. Hyperion. 374 pages.
The first time I met Mia we ended up in a hotel room by ourselves.
Albert Kim is many things, but popular isn't one of them. He's more likely to be friends with the sixth graders down the street than his own classmates of either sex. More at home playing video games than interacting with real people. But the summer he gets his first job--as a janitor at a nearby inn--he begins to mature--slightly at least. One of his coworkers is Mia, a classmate who is popular and beautiful and utterly out-of-this-world amazing to poor Albert. The two have to work together every day. But that doesn't mean Albert acts like a rational human being when he's with her. Quite the opposite in fact. He's awkward. He's obnoxious. He's odd. Yet, as the summer continues on, they move past this extremely awkward phase and become comfortable with one another. True, he still has the maturity of a thirteen year old--despite the fact that he's several years older than that. (I want to say sixteen or seventeen, but I could be wrong.) But despite of it all, in spite of it all, Mia comes to like him...really like him. If only the summer would never end. But, of course, it does. And when it does, life becomes a lot more complicated for everybody. Albert has a choice: does he remain invisible and sullen and weird...or does he try to act like a 'normal' guy and actually interact with his classmates and try his best to make a friend (or two or three)? He tries...oh how he tries...but Mia and Albert are so very different. Can their summer-love make it through the year? Or will Mia's ties to the popular crowd (and her ex boyfriend) tear this young couple apart?
The novel is humorous but heartfelt. With hundreds of embarrassing scenes...Albert is flawed but lovable...in many ways. Not all ways. I still see him as being immature and a bit dumb...but he's believable all the same. And it's always nice to get a guy's perspective in a romance.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Saturday Review of Books: October 25, 2014
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