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Book cover of How Ya Like Me Now

How Ya Like Me Now

by Brendan Halpin

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 208
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374334956






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Overview of How Ya Like Me Now

Since his dad died, Eddie's mom has spent all her time getting high on OxyContin, leaving Eddie to take care of himself. When Eddie's mom goes into rehab and his aunt and uncle take him away to Boston, everything changes. His new school, which he attends with his cousin Alex, is experimental: there's a CEO instead of a principal, classes are held in an office building, and the students, all sporting business-casual looks, are the only urban kids Eddie has ever seen outside of a rap video. As for Alex, it's bad enough that he has to share his bedroom with Eddie, but his parents are on his case about including his quiet cousin in his social life as well. Alex wants to do the right thing, but between talking to girls, playing video games, thinking about girls, laughing with his friends, and looking at girls, when is he supposed to find time to help Eddie and "work up to his potential" in school?

Two boys find that they have a lot to learn from each other in this touching, funny novel about finding your place and looking out for your friends.

Synopsis of How Ya Like Me Now

Since his dad died, Eddie's mom has spent all her time getting high on OxyContin, leaving Eddie to take care of himself. When Eddie's mom goes into rehab and his aunt and uncle take him away to Boston, everything changes. His new school, which he attends with his cousin Alex, is experimental: there's a CEO instead of a principal, classes are held in an office building, and the students, all sporting business-casual looks, are the only urban kids Eddie has ever seen outside of a rap video. As for Alex, it's bad enough that he has to share his bedroom with Eddie, but his parents are on his case about including his quiet cousin in his social life as well. Alex wants to do the right thing, but between talking to girls, playing video games, thinking about girls, laughing with his friends, and looking at girls, when is he supposed to find time to help Eddie and "work up to his potential" in school?

Two boys find that they have a lot to learn from each other in this touching, funny novel about finding your place and looking out for your friends.

KLIATT

This short novel about a suburban boy fitting into an inner-city charter school has charm and humor. Eddie's father has died and his mother has gone into a rehab program for drug addicts, so Eddie moves into a loft in Boston with his aunt and uncle and their son Alex and is allowed to attend Alex's charter school, where students are supportive of one another and teachers are inspiring and encouraging. Eddie is a good student who has been miserable for quite some time, and he slowly becomes happy with his new family and new school. Alex, Eddie's cousin, is popular, quick-witted and charming—but he has terrible study habits and doesn't make good grades. Eddie is highly disciplined but needs to learn to enjoy life more and make friends. They are good for each other. Eddie's honest feelings of anger towards his mother, especially when she gets better and wants to contact him, are expressed poignantly. Readers will enjoy the story of both boys. It's terrific to meet a group of high school students from various cultural backgrounds who take school seriously and are supportive of one another. It's ultimately a tribute to the charter school concept and what it can mean for secondary education.

About the Author, Brendan Halpin

BRENDAN HALPIN is the author of several books for adults, including Donorboy, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Reviews of How Ya Like Me Now

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Editorials

KLIATT - Claire Rosser

This short novel about a suburban boy fitting into an inner-city charter school has charm and humor. Eddie's father has died and his mother has gone into a rehab program for drug addicts, so Eddie moves into a loft in Boston with his aunt and uncle and their son Alex and is allowed to attend Alex's charter school, where students are supportive of one another and teachers are inspiring and encouraging. Eddie is a good student who has been miserable for quite some time, and he slowly becomes happy with his new family and new school. Alex, Eddie's cousin, is popular, quick-witted and charming—but he has terrible study habits and doesn't make good grades. Eddie is highly disciplined but needs to learn to enjoy life more and make friends. They are good for each other. Eddie's honest feelings of anger towards his mother, especially when she gets better and wants to contact him, are expressed poignantly. Readers will enjoy the story of both boys. It's terrific to meet a group of high school students from various cultural backgrounds who take school seriously and are supportive of one another. It's ultimately a tribute to the charter school concept and what it can mean for secondary education.

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills

Eddie has plenty of painful problems in his life: his father is dead, his mother is in drug rehab, and he has been sent to live with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, where he has to start over as a new student in a multi-racial school in downtown Boston. Halpin gives the YA problem novel a fresh spin by creating an original, innovative high school setting. The Francis Abernathy Center for Urban Education (or FA-CUE, as the students prefer to call it), is modeled after a corporation, with a CEO instead of a principal, an "advisory" instead of a homeroom, business casual attire for associates (students), and coursework centered on a demanding marketing project. Eddie and his cousin Alex are two of the only white students in the school, and shy Eddie has to learn to master the art of the fast-paced, in-your-face, often racially based, good natured insults the students constantly trade with one another, as well as console Alex through his crush on Vietnamese-American Hanh and survive his own crush on African-American Tanya. Before long, Eddie has come into his own at FA-CUE and dreads returning to his troubled life with the mother he both hates and loves. While the resolution of Eddie's conflict with his mother is too quick and convenient, Halpin deftly balances heartbreak and humor within an unusual and engaging high school milieu.

VOYA - Matthew Weaver

Just when one gets the impression that literature for adolescent males that is at the same time realistic and heartwarming is not being published any longer, along comes Halpin to prove otherwise. His novel bounces back and forth between cousins Eddie and Alex, thrust together under one roof when Eddie joins Alex at home and school as his mother goes through drug rehab. Alex and Eddie are two of the few white students in FA-CUE, a mostly urban school designed to train its students to rise above their ghetto backgrounds and pursue strong professional careers in the business world, complete with official office jargon and self-policing student policies. (The characters are all too aware of the vulgarity the school's acronym implies.) The principal is even called the chief executive officer. Such a setting feels like the one flight of fancy in an otherwise grounded tale as Alex tries to help Eddie integrate into his new social setting, whereas Eddie helps Alex make the most of his potential. Particularly warming is Eddie's gradual mastery of smacktalk to Alex and to their other friends; readers root right alongside for him to be accepted. The drama is realistic, and so are the stakes that each cousin faces as the story progresses. It is not difficult for the reader to empathize with either character's conflict, and the shift in focus of each chapter shows the reader not to be so quick to assume anyone's motivation, but everyone has best intentions at heart. Halpin creates a strong, solid offering whose achievements are lasting and miraculous.

School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Since his father's death two years earlier, Eddie has been a virtual orphan, throwing himself into school and housework and trying desperately to cover up his mother's drug addiction and alcoholism. When his mom is finally forced into rehab, Eddie is whisked off to Boston to live with his "hippy-dippy" Aunt Lily, her husband, and their son. He joins his cousin, Alex, at his experimental, inner-city high school, The Center for Urban Education, or CUE. The institution is designed like a business and students are expected to dress and act accordingly. In sharp contrast to Eddie's sprawling, mostly white, suburban high school, academic achievement is valued and expected of the mostly black students. Alex is gregarious and fun-loving-and a chronic underachiever. Eddie is introverted, hardworking, and has no experience being a teenager. Over the course of a few months, the boys begin to open up and, to their surprise, become close friends. Just as Eddie is beginning to feel comfortable in his new life, he learns that his mother is ready to leave rehab and start over with him. Halpin does an excellent job of baring Eddie's emotions and his inner conflict about his mom. The ebb and flow of the relationship between the two boys is also well done and believable. Many teens will identify with Eddie, crying and cheering for him by turns. This well-crafted story is on par with Margaret Peterson Haddix's Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey (S & S, 1996).
—Anthony C. DoyleCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

Fifteen-year-old Eddie's mother is forced into rehab and his father has died, leaving the young man adrift without adult support. Eddie must adapt to a new environment after being accepted into his cousin Alex's Boston home. Both boys mature throughout the story, but Eddie gains confidence in himself by interacting with a new peer group. Many of the scenes occur inside their school built on the theme of business and requiring the students to dress and act like future business leaders. The boys are two of only a few white kids in the school, but relationships are relaxed and easygoing. The author has sanitized the urban school setting with dialogue almost void of swearing, and perhaps loses some credibility in the process. The cover photograph, thumbs poised over a video-game controller, is an attention-grabber, but video-gaming is only a small part of the story. The author nails group interaction moments in which the boys' give-and-take wisecracks are totally realistic, and that repartee is the book's strength. An interesting exploration of serious issues, presented in a lighthearted tone. (Fiction. 12-14)

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