Stewart has a high I.Q. At 13, he has always been the youngest in his class and socially clueless. He really misses his mom who died of cancer a year and three months ago; but is happy that his Dad has found someone new and he has always wanted a sister.
Ashley is 14, extremely good looking by her own estimation, has a great sense of style, and is the Queen Bee of her crowd. For 12 ½ years her family was “perfect;” then a year ago, her father announced that he was gay and that his marriage to her mother was over. For financial reasons, he shares an apartment located just behind the house.
Ashley is totally disgusted with her dad for ruining her life. She is not pleased when she learns that her mother’s boyfriend will be moving in “with his egghead, freakazoid of a son.” She finds this totally unacceptable and starts planning for her unconsipation from her family on her sixteenth birthday. (She means emancipation.) Ashely is not known for her intelligence.
This hilarious and satisfying story is told in alternate chapters by Stewart and Ashely. It’s a quick fun read about an all too contemporary family situation. Both unwittingly reveal more about their character than they intend. Ashely is especially heinous. Her top priority is her position on the social ladder. No one can know that her Dad is gay. She lacks loyalty to her friends exposing secrets and putting them down when it seems advantageous to do so.
Stewart is well aware that he is a nerd. Life is tough initially but he soon joins the Mathletes and becomes Borden High’s new basketball mascot. Since making friends with Phoebe and Violet, he no longer eats lunch under the stairway. He narrowly escapes certain torture by telling Jared, the school bully, that Ashley is his “sister.”
Ashely is a slower learner than Stewart in studies and life. She falls hard for the mysterious Jared with his good looks and charming personality… When Ashley learns that he was recently kicked out of his Catholic school, it only adds to his appeal. It is obvious to the reader that Jared is bad news leading Ashley and others into danger.
I recommend this book for high school students and above due to mature themes like gay parents and alcohol abuse. It is clear that Ashely is deeply hurt by her father’s choices. She wants to think she is not homophobic, but it is different when it comes to her own father and her own reputation.
The real hero of this story is Stewart. He knows that other people think he is weird yet he remains true to himself. He is the one who cares about others and ultimately rescues Ashley from herself. Ashley’s story is a cautionary tale. After escaping near disaster at the hands of Jared, she begins to show some maturity and starts questioning her selfish values and choice of friends.