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Screwed Up Life of Charlie The Second by…
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Screwed Up Life of Charlie The Second

by Drew Ferguson

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My sister lent me this book. In doing so she said that there's more sex in it than what she usually reads, but she thought it was appropriate to the topic. It's not more sex than what I usually read but I agree it's appropriate to the topic, although I think it will unfortunately limit the audience.

This is a YA ("Young Adult" - library/publishing term for books aimed at kids age 12-21 or so) novel about a 17-year-old gay male high school senior in the Chicago suburbs. It's a serio-comic first person story, crafted as Charles James Stewart's journal. His father - whom he refers to as "First" - is also Charles James Stewart, which is how he comes to think of himself as Charlie the Second.

A lot happens in Charlie's senior year - social changes (his best friend since elementary school has more time for a new girlfriend than for Charlie), relationship developments (his first boyfriend), a rocky time in his parents' marriage, etc. Charlie has a clever, snarky approach to life and he's very, very funny, often in a self-deprecating way. He's also kind of obsessed with sex, and much of the journal concerns masturbatory activities, sexual fantasies, and - eventually - actual interpersonal sex. The sexual descriptions are explicit and frequent and, unfortunately, will probably rule the book out for a lot of the target audience, or at least for the parents who buy them books.

Still, there's lots here for adult adults. Charlie is a fully realized and well-developed character and he grows and develops throughout the book. It's not a coming out book - he is already out well before the book starts - but rather a coming of age one. I liked that it's not a book about being gay but a book about a gay kid growing up. Charlie learns things about his parents, about family relationships, friendship, and sexuality and he often learns them with pain and difficulty. The other characters are all seen through Charlie's somewhat self-absorbed adolescent eyes, and Ferguson does a great job of letting the reader know things about them through Charlie's descriptions and experiences that Charlie himself does not realize. The sex is sometimes comic, sometimes poignant, often hot, and always very, very real. As is Charlie.

Highly recommended ( )
  DaleQ | Aug 25, 2009 |
Funny, touching and cool. Heartily recommended. ( )
  HonourableHusband | Nov 1, 2008 |
An interesting account of a gay teenager names Charlie. His life, his parents, his loves, his hates. Some graphic descriptions of his encounters with his boyfriend provided much more information than I was expecting.
The Sting tag is due to a funny piece about his mother (pg 93) and his manipulation of the lyrics to King of Pain.
"Nothing says angry-slash-angst-slash-artsy misunderstood, sensitive middle-aged, all-my-dreams-are-dead soccer mom like a blind devotion to Sting and REM."
The story follows the basic coming-of-age travails that many authors have explored with the added ingredient of homosexuality. ( )
  aimless22 | Oct 20, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0758227086, Paperback)

Sometimes, it's just easier to think I'm not the freak. I'm just in an alien world. . .

Being Charles James Stewart, Jr., AKA Charlie the Second, means never "fitting in." Tall, gangly and big-eared, he could be a poster boy for teenage geeks. An embarrassment to his parents (he's not too crazy about them, either), Charlie is a virtual untouchable at his high school, where humiliation is practically an extracurricular activity. Charlie has tried to fit in, but all of his efforts fail on a glorious, monumental scale. He plays soccer--mainly to escape his home life--but isn't accepted by his teammates who basically ignore him on the field. He still confuses the accelerator with the brake pedal and as a result, has not only failed his driving exam six times, but also almost killed himself and his driving instructor. He can't work on his college essay without writing a searing tell-all. But what's freaking Charlie out the most is that while his hormones are raging and his peers are pairing off, he remains alone with his fantasies.

But all of this is about to change when a new guy at school begins to liven things up on the soccer team--and in Charlie's life. For the first time in his seventeen years, Charlie will learn how it feels to be a star, well, at least off the field. But Charlie discovers that even cool guys have problems as he embarks on a deliciously sexy, risk-filled journey from which there is no turning back. . .

"The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second is a funny, honest and engaging book, told with attitude and style. Drew Ferguson is a talented writer with great comic timing, and an eye for the absurd." --Bart Yates, author of The Brothers Bishop and The Distance Between Us

"Drew Ferguson's debut novel is equally funny and smart, and will strike eerily familiar chords in anyone who remembers the edgy, frustrating, sex-obsessed days and nights of high school. You'll love his narrator, Charlie, and you'll also love this book." --Scott Heim, author of Mysterious Skin and We Disappear

"Look out Napoleon Dynamite, here comes Charlie the Second! In this page-turning laugh riot, Drew Ferguson captures the voice of Today's Teen conquering the daily drudge that is Life in the Midwest. Colorfully candid, unapologetically explicit, yet touchingly tender, The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second serves as a reminder to those who've escaped from Small Town USA as to the reasons why!" --Frank Anthony Polito, author of Band Fags!

"A terrific debut novel. Drew Ferguson is one of the most authentic new voices in contemporary fiction." --Steve Kluger, author of Almost Like Being in Love

"Written in a fact-paced diary format, Ferguson has created a beautiful and moving novel that literally has you laughing out loud one moment and shedding tears the next." --Arthur Wooten, author of On Picking Fruit and Fruit Cocktail

"Lots of blurbs in lots of books promise "laugh-out-loud hilarity." This book delivers. With Charlie the Second, Drew Ferguson has created a memorable and original character undergoing the perils, confusion, and humiliation of adolescence. Between onanistic sexcapades that would make Alexander Portnoy blush, The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second is an engagingly accurate portrayal of the highs and lows of growing up and figuring out who you are." --Brian Costello, author of The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs

Drew Ferguson received his MFA in creative writing from Columbia College, Chicago. His work has appeared in Blithe House Quarterly, The James White Review, Hair Trigger, The Great Lawn, and other publications. He currently resides in Chicago.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

Charlie is "the poster boy for teenage geeks," and doesn't fit in anywhere, at school or at home, until a new guy at school joins the soccer team.

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