Good Kids

Benjamin Nugent. Scribner, $23 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4391-3659-1
Josh and Khadijah are growing up in a Massachusetts town populated by academics and ex-hippies and white people who named their daughters Khadijah during their Sufi phase, in Nugent’s unimpressive debut novel (after American Nerd, a memoir). Though they attend the same high school, what links the two is the discovery that their parents are having an affair; when both their parents’ marriages break up, Khadijah moves away before Josh can pursue his crush on her. The story starts there, then flashes forward a decade, to Los Angeles, where Josh is trying to figure out what to do now that his semisuccessful band has broken up. He has a fiancée, Julie, on whom, following the dictates of the vow he and Khadijah took when they were 15, he’s never cheated. Then Khadijah comes to town. It’s not a bad setup, and the book, with a fine, rooted sense of place, has charm and humor, just not enough. Josh and Julie communicate in self-aware banter (“now we could perform for each other without worrying if the performance was original,” Josh says); Josh’s mother and sister feel like pat Eastern liberals, complete with Buddhism, do-gooder jobs, Jungian psychology, and discussions of male privilege; his father is a set of irksome quirks, and the eventual playing out of his relationship with Khadijah makes sense, but fails to surprise. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 01/08/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4391-5433-5
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-4391-3660-7
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-0-7927-9675-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-62064-587-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-9674-9
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