Book Review: Weird Girl and What's His Name
By: Meagan Brothers
Published By: Three Rooms Press
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, LGBT
Rory and Lula are two best friends growing up in a small North Carolina town. They are nerds, hard core X-Files fans, and don't have any other friends. They also have parents who are MIA. Rory's father split when he was young and his mother is an alcoholic. Rory is also gay, although the only person who knows this is Lula.
Lula's mom decided her acting career was more important than raising her daughter, so she left Lula with her grandparents to be raised in their retirement condo development. Lula's grandfather, Leo, had a falling out with Lula's mother and so Lula's mom (Christine) is not spoken of in their house. Although Lula loves Leo and Janet, this has fostered a desire in Lula to find Christine.
Rory and Lula tell each other all their secrets. Well, all except one. Rory hasn't told Lula that he's in a relationship with his boss, Andy. When Lula finds out, she runs off to find her mother without telling anyone. Consequently, the police are called in thinking this could be a possible abduction. When Lula finally comes home, she finds she has permanently damaged her relationship with Rory and doesn't know if it can ever be mended.
The first half of the book is narrated by Rory and the second half by Lula. Lula switches back and forth between the past and present, explaining what happened when she left town. This book started off great for me but started going downhill as soon as I found out about Rory's relationship with his boss. A 17 yo should not be having sex with his 40-year-old boss! Andy was committing statutory rape and the whole thing was just swept under the rug. I never could get over this issue in the book.
Rory being gay causes some major problems for him in the book, but thankfully he is able to find those who accept him for who he is. Lula struggles with her sexuality in the book. Lula thinks she's in love with Rory, but when she discovers Rory's secret relationship with Andy it completely throws her off balance. It felt like there was a certain character in the book trying to sway Lula in a particular direction, probably due to ulterior motives. It was heartening to see that Lula didn't let others persuade her and ultimately she made the decision for herself.
I thought Rory trying out for the football team was actually a great thing for him. It helped him to find some friends outside of his relationship with Lula and helped broaden his interests into other areas. What I didn't understand was this anger he kept talking about. Was it a problem he didn't know he had? Was it just frustration due to his mother's drinking, Lula's disappearance, and the breakup with Andy? Or was it a deeper, more ominous reason? It seemed like that issue was never resolved.
One of my favorite characters is Walter, Christine's husband. He is a wonderful comfort to Lula when Christine has no idea how to be nurturing at all. Walter takes his time to really talk to her and get to know her. Christine was kind of awful. I realize not everyone is cut out to be a parent and I applaud her for doing what was best for Lula. But when Lula finally found Christine, she treated Lula so badly! I couldn't imagine treating someone like that, let alone my own daughter.
My other favorite character is Sexy Seth. He is kind to Rory when he doesn't have to be, and it leads to a brotherly friendship between the two of them. Since Seth is the quarterback, their chance meeting also enables Rory to try out for the football team. Seth also befriends Lula when she comes back, even though most people don't really know what to say to her.
All in all, the book was ok. There were parts of it I enjoyed, but they weren't able to compensate for the things I didn't like.
In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, seventeen-year-old geeks Lula and Rory share everything—sci-fi and fantasy fandom, Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes, and that feeling that they don’t quite fit in. Lula knows she and Rory have no secrets from each other; after all, he came out to her years ago, and she’s shared with him her “sacred texts”—the acting books her mother left behind after she walked out of Lula’s life. But then Lula discovers that Rory—her Rory, who maybe she’s secretly had feelings for—has not only tried out for the Hawthorne football team without telling her, but has also been having an affair with his middle-aged divorcee boss. With their friendship disrupted, Lula begins to question her identity and her own sexual orientation, and she runs away in the middle of the night on a journey to find her mother, who she hopes will have all the answers. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose in this fresh LGBT YA novel speaks to anyone who has ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggles to find their place in an isolating world.