cover image Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II

Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II

Ron Koertge. Candlewick, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5081-0

Nine years after Stoner & Spaz (2002), Koertge picks up where the first installment left off, with Ben (a rich kid with cerebral palsy) and Colleen (a drug addict with no functioning parent) alternatively in love and at odds. Before Ben, 16, met Colleen, he'd lived vicariously through film, and her interest in him shook him out of his stupor. "I was for sure headed for Hermitville. Odd-Duck Town. Weirdo City," he admits. But Colleen is a lot of work%E2%80%94she relapses frequently, his grandmother disapproves of her, she kisses him passionately then leaves a party with someone else. "You just wear me out," he tells her. Ben has made one well-received student film; now he's searching for a second subject. Is it Colleen? Is it his mother, who left him on his grandmother's doorstep 12 years earlier? There's scant plot, but Koertge writes sharp dialogue and vivid scenes. Little is resolved for either character except that they seem better off with each other than without, which is likely how many readers will feel about these companionable misfits, too. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Aug.)