What a pleasure this book was to read! I received it from Read-4-Review and just loved it.
Larry Buhl has taken the typical awkward high school senior and raised him to the next level. I did not expect this character at all. I found myself alternately laughing and shaking my head throughout the story.
Tyler, the main character, is fascinating because he is such an odd combination of things. Many authors address the Foster Care system in a sappy, analytical, or disparaging way. But here, it is simply a component of what has shaped Tyler's personality. He is not an "expected" person at all. He is focused, logical and driven. He seems like someone who might have Asperger's Syndrome. He does not communicate well with others. And when he does things that don't make sense to others (and vice versa), he simply seems to shake his head and simply move on. He obsesses, but not in a way that is creepy. He is sympathetic without being pathetic.
I loved that this book is written like a diary. The lists that Tyler makes are laugh-out-loud funny. But here's the interesting thing: while I was laughing at Tyler, I wasn't laughing at Tyler. It's as if all along this character knew what he was saying was funny, explaining things in a witty way that was not self-deprecating but also not offended at what we, as readers, would think. He wasn't laughing with me, but he was so analytical that he didn't see why I wouldn't laugh at him.
The secondary characters were varied and interesting. Carl and Janet had experienced a situation I did not expect, which although out of their control was nonetheless one for which they felt responsible. Normally the whole lack of communication between them and Tyler would have annoyed me. In this case, not so. Janet's sister was a hoot. The kids that Tyler tutored annoyed me like they annoyed him.
Tyler also gets into trouble, but not because it's just cool to do it. Amid the laughter about his observations, there is a deeply troubled boy trying to cope with his circumstances. Somehow this is always apparent without being glaring.
My only problem with this story was the ending. It seemed to come out of nowhere. And yet, it was abrupt in a way that Tyler was abrupt. I hope that was the author's intention, because it didn't work and yet worked - just like Tyler himself.
This story was a departure from my normal genre, and a welcome one. It's worthy of a re-read simply for the laughter alone. UCSD, you're in for a treat!