For fans of Andrew Smith's WINGER and GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE comes the latest YA novel by Adam Selzer. PLAY ME BACKWARDS is a hysterical look at the senior year of a slacker named Leon Harris.
The plain and simple truth is, I loved Leon Harris. Yes, he's the protagonist, and you're supposed to like the protagonist, right? Well, Leon is a screw-up, a loser, a slacker, a slob, and sometimes a complete idiot. I loved him anyway.
It takes a kick in the crotch from his ex-girlfriend in England to get Leon to realize all of these things about himself. And when he does, he goes to his BFF Stan for advice. Stan gives him a couple of crazy quests, and Leon sets out on a journey to change his life over the course of his senior year in high school. Of course, he really has no idea that anything is going to change.
Slowly but surely, Leon becomes less of an idiot that screwed up his current life and his entire future. Leon still remains very much himself, though. "If I ever stop laughing when people say 'balls,' I'll know my heart is dead," Leon thinks in chapter 25. I wouldn't say Leon learns a lot about himself over the course of the story, but he does learn to keep what makes him *Leon* intact in the face of preppy girlfriends, parents threatening to kill you with butcher knives, and the eternal threat of not graduating.
Leon also learns a lot about love and relationships. He's not the most experienced with girls, and his nervousness with sexual situations is a refreshing change from contemporary YA in which male sexuality isn't really addressed at all.
"Love is like fitting two puzzle pieces from two different puzzles together."
This book is the story of Leon trying to fit into puzzles he doesn't belong in. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and the too sticky-sweet kind of gross. And you want to read it. Trust me on this one. Or better yet, trust Satan-ahem, I mean Stan.
"You'll thank me later," said Stan. "You'll see. Thus begins the resurrection of Leon."
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