One of my favorite books of 2009 was Brent Crawford's Carter Finally Gets It. Carter was a high school freshman trying to get along with girls, terrible nicknames and his attention deficit disorder. I was beyond excited when I saw the sequel, Carter's Big Break, come into my library.
The new book covers Carter's summer after his freshman year. Things are looking pretty good for Carter. He is going to be a lifeguard at the local pool and he can hang out with Abby, his girlfriend, all summer. Unfortunately, he is too young to get the lifeguard job and after an awkward moment atop a rocket-ship slide he is girlfriendless. So now he is stuck building a deck with his dad and figuring out how to properly apologize to Abby.
When a local author returns to Merrian to produce the film version of Carter's favorite book (and only book he has really read) Carter and Abby have shots at being in the movie. It turns out that Carter gets a role and is playing opposite Kidz Channel star Hilary Idaho. Carter and Hilary bond, but does he do the right thing when he suspects she has a substance abuse problem?
This is just about as funny as the first novel. Carter's Big Break is full of great characters between Carter's friends and family. The best part of these novels is the realistic portrayal of how guys interact and communicate with each other. I think Steven Goldman's Two Parties, One Tux and a Very Short Film about the Grapes of Wrath is the only other book as good as these are at portraying teenage boys and their friends.
Even though I don't even remotely care about the world of celebrities, watching Carter interact in it was quite amusing. Crawford definitely leans on his experience in film and television for this book. It doesn't seem as well thought out as the original as this volume was a bit disjointed and fantastical compared to the realism of the first Carter book. It still stands up quite well and I hope there are more Carter books to come. Besides Steven Goldman's novel, I would also recommend this to fans of The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to his Death and Lands in California by Mary Hershey.
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