Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy’s coming-of-age. Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters, and “wins” at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he’s given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and maybe — oh god, please — he’s beginning to catch the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez. Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills . . . it’s all good. But in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it’s easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss, and addiction. It’s life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.
Divided into four sections, each representing one high-school year, this coming-of-age novel chronicles teenage Paul Walden's progression from naive freshman to senior navigating crisis and addiction. During the first three sections, he comes across as a stereotypical, if witty, privileged adolescent male whose small world revolves around girls, designer goods, and video games and rap music, interests he shares with his best friend, Roby Smalls. Paul's problems are minor: his single mother is supportive, he has ready access to the porn and weed that he enjoys, and even when he betrays Roby by dating his crush, their rift is short-lived and easily resolved. It isn't until senior year, when Paul experiences a personal tragedy, that he reckons with harsh realities about happenstance and fate, turning to a range of prescription drugs to escape his emotional pain. Myracle (Under the Moon) gives a frank depiction of Paul's grief, rapid physical decline, and arduous journey to recovery that casts a new light on Paul's previously carefree adolescence, offering a universality to the cautionary tale. Ages 14 up.