cover image The Great American Whatever

The Great American Whatever

Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4814-0409-9

Annabeth and Quinn were sibling filmmakers—she the director, he the screenwriter—and Quinn, 16, dreamed that they would become famous collaborators like the Wachowskis, Ephrons, or Coens. Then Annabeth died on an icy road. Six months later, Quinn’s mother is still grief-stricken, and Quinn has holed up in his bedroom. Into this stasis arrives best friend Geoff, who prods him to take a needed shower and get out of the house. Quinn tells part of his rebound story in screenplay form, but the key plot element is his flirtation with Amir, a college guy he meets at a party: the possibility of love (and sex and romance) makes him realize that there’s still a future to look forward to. Federle’s first venture into YA shares the same wry sensibility and theatrical underpinnings of his middle-grade books, while freeing him up to make some edgier jokes (“ ‘A little less tongue,’ he slurs, which was precisely the note I was going to give him”). The mix of vulnerability, effervescence, and quick wit in Quinn’s narration will instantly endear him to readers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)