Friday 19 May 2017

Review on Noah Can't Even

Everything is going wrong in Noah Grimes' life. Everyone at school thinks he's a loser, his dad left home without a word five years ago, and his beloved gran has dementia. However, all is not lost, as Sophie, a pretty, smart and cool girl in Noah's year may just be interested in him! Noah is delighted. That is until his best friend, Harry kisses him at a party, and his whole world falls apart. Is it possible that Noah could like Harry back? Does that mean he's gay? Amidst his feelings for Harry and having to deal with his mum and her new boyfriend, Noah also discovers a family secret that will change his life forever.

I CAN'T EVEN WITH NOAH CAN'T EVEN!! Honestly this is going to be a long rant about how much I adored this book rather than a constructive review, I just loved it so much. If this book was a person I would marry it. But let me attempt to collect my thought to explain why I loved this book so much.

The book follows Noah Grimes, a fifteen year old in his last year at high school. (I realise Noah would hate me for saying high school rather than secondary school. More on that later!) Noah is by no means popular, and is a bit of a geek. When there is a geek boy in a YA novel, they are usually handsome and tall, with a small group of cool and quirky friends. The standard geek boy is smart beyond his years, makes good decisions and ultimately gets the gorgeous popular girl who is way out of his league. Just read any John Green novel and you'll see the type of character I'm describing. Noah, to my delight, was non of these things! I am young enough to remember being Noah's age, and seeing how awkward fifteen year old boys truly are. They are all stumbling their way through life, desperate to fit in and not draw any attention to themselves that could cause bullying. Noah seemed much more real than other characters his age. There are far too many unrealistic fictional teenage boys with washboard abs and a vocabulary of a thirty year old. I don't know how these boys are affording a gym membership and attending regularly despite school, homework and having a social life, and I don't think Noah does either. I immediately adored Noah, and found him to be extremely relatable.

One thing that made me love this book was how hilarious it was. Noah was constantly getting himself into awkward situations, and then proceeding to make them worse by trying to explain himself. I was constantly laughing out loud at this book, and it's probably for the best that I never read any of it in public, as I'm sure I would have earned myself some very strange looks! I did however also feel sorry for Noah, and the secondary embarrassment was very real to the point I had to put the book down on one occasion, as Noah was just digging his own grave. I adored how awkward Noah was, and I related to him making situations far more complicated than they needed to be.

One character who I just have to talk about is Noah's gran. I also had a gran with dementia, and it was heartbreaking to see her deteriate to the point whre she no longer recognised me, and, like Noah's gran, didn't realise that her husband had died. I completely understood how Noah felt, as it's awful having to watch someone you love losing their memories. I adored Noah's gran, and when she had moments where she seemed to come back to her old self, she gave Noah some good advice. I loved her reaction to Noah telling her about Harry kissing him. I feel as if old people generally seem to be less open minded, so I adored that Noah's gran was completely accepting, and reacted no differently than if Noah had told her that a girl had kissed him. We clearly need more grandparents who are as amazing as Noah's gran in the world!

So speaking of Harry, I have to talk a little about him, and his relationship with Noah. One thing that I adore in YA fiction is when characters who have been best friends since they were little develop romantic feelings for each other. I felt as if the romance between Noah and Harry was executed perfectly! Sexuality can be a confusing thing when you're young. The fact that being heterosexual seems to be the default setting of humans can be confusing for LGBT teenagers, and I felt as if this was defintely a contributing factor for Noah. Although Harry comes out and admits to Noah that he is gay, it's not so easy for Noah to do the same. Everyone discovers their sexuality at a different pace, and this was shown perfectly with the two boys. Noah feels as if he should be attracted to girls not boys, and tries to convince himself that he has romantic feelings for Sophie. Although it is clear to the reader and to Noah's friends that Noah has feelings for Harry, Noah seems to be in denial for a good portion of the book. Sadly I felt as if a big part of this was down to his classmates. Teenagers can be cruel to anyone who is different in an attempt to avoid getting bullied themselves. As Noah spends quite a bit of time trying to fit in, I could see his reasoning behind hiding his true feelings for Harry. Coming out while still in school can be a huge ordeal. A few of my school friends didn't come out until after they had left school, so even though I was rooting for him to tell Harry how he felt, I also saw the situation from his point of view.

One thing that I want to briefly mention is the setting. I adore when YA book are set in Britain, and Noah was very much typically British. One thing that made me laugh was Noah constantly being angry at people for using American dialect. There is no denying that American culture has become a big part of Britain. We consume American movies and TV shows constantly, so there is no surprise that we have also picked up on the words they use. I am very much like Noah in that I often prefer to use British words, despite constantly confusing my American friends,and I found it to be one of Noah's many endearing qualities.

If I was forced to say something that could be seen as negative about this book, it would probably be how unrealistic the plot is. Now let me point out that this didn't personally bother me. Although this is a contemporary book, it is also a comedy, and it just wouldn't have been so funny without all the ridiculous things that happened. However, if you are going into this book expecting it to be realistic, just be warned that it's not. Quite a bit of the plot is pretty ridiculous, over the top and unbelievable. For example, Noah being just about to get on a bus that his dad was getting off was just too much to be a coincidence. However, all the utterly ridiculous things that were happening to Noah simultaneously just added to the charm and humour of the book for me.

This is a fantastic coming of age story that deals with sexuality perfectly, while adding a very accurate interpretation of what it's like to be a teenager. It definitely doesn't shy away from the more awkward and embarrassing aspects of teenage life. I am so happy that I picked up this book, as after falling into a reading slump, it reminded me why I love reading so much!

Noah Can't Even is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

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