The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.
Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.
One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death . . . and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.
"Deep and uproarious all at once . . . A clever spin on a weighty classic." —Kirkus, starred review
"An outstanding YA novel balancing comedy with substantial themes of love, death, and healing." —SLJ, starred review
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you enjoy a good revenge plot, you’ll love A. E. Kaplan’s young adult novel: a reworked Beowulf for the modern age. It tells the story of Tom Grendel, who wages war against a noisy neighbor while trying to win his dream girl. Though Grendel is sensitive and delightfully mature at times—his dedication to managing his father’s PTSD is heartbreaking—he’s not above juvenile retaliation, nor is he immune to the heartache of first love. A comical snapshot of teen angst, Kaplan’s book is beautifully written with enough pathos and humor to keep you hooked until the last word.