Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl by D.L. Garfinkle.
The Plot: Michael "Storky" Pomerantz has dreams for his freshman year of high school: hopes ("Gina confesses she's madly in love with me") and realistic hopes ("Gina doesn't totally blow me off.") Storky, oops, I meant Mike, shares his freshman year, from having to suffer the agony of Gina dating a jock named "Hunk" to being dragged by his Mom to a nursing home for forced volunteering. And his best friend moved away, and his Mom's dating his dentist, and his Dad is dating a string of bimbos.....
The Good: This is a very funny book, and funny in my favorite way. Not so much from outlandishly comical situations; but rather from Mike's observations and turns of phrase. It's all about the way Mike sees the world. As with many good funny books, under the laughter lies some serious subject matter: Love. Loss. Friendships.
Mike is a normal teen dealing with typical things: divorced parents who are dating, a popular older sister, making friends in a new school, crushes on girls. This is that hard to find book: a normal book about a normal teen, that has humor, and is perfect for both guy and girl readers. Guys will see themselves as Mike; and girls will either want to date Mike... or will start thinking about their Mike-like friend with a bit more understanding. This is an Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging for boys. I was also reminded of My-So Called Life, and pictured Mike as Brian Krakow and Gina as Angela Chase.
Mike is a preoccupied with girls... but hey, he's a teenage boy! On meeting a girl for the first time, he thinks, "she seems smart and very nice. Plus she has big round breasts." And his reaction to being reassured that "as girls mature, they realize the brain is the sexiest part of the male body" is an honest "it certainly isn't the sexiest part of the female body." But Mike isn't just obsessed with sex: he's also funny, endearing, highly likeable, and sympathetic.
Storky doesn't preach. Mike drinks alcohol. Has hangovers. And gasp -- all without car accidents! Or people being horrible injured! Or dangerous behavior! Or all those other moralistic things that are found in teen books.
While the book delivers on the title, pat endings are avoided, in significant part because the characters are well rounded and the ending remains true to these characters. It's not so much a happy ending as an ending with happiness. I'm not sure if a sequel is planned, but I want to know what happens during Mike's sophomore year.