Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

From Goodreads:

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
– find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
– need a liver transplant
– drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:18392495
– well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.

You all know that I’m a sucker for Huntley Fitzpatrick. I impatiently awaited My Life Next Door and when it came out, I couldn’t deal. The same goes for What I Thought Was True and The Boy Most Likely To. I think she has an ability to taper down and find the root of people’s desires and write about them in appealingly realistic ways.

I am really afraid of spoiling this book, because it achieves what most contemporary novels don’t—it has crazy cliffhangers! SO I have to be vague, and I apologize.

What I like most about The Boy Most Likely To  is that it brings up questions about myself that I hadn’t thought to ask. Like, what would I do if I messed up this big? Or, how would I react if the person I wanted to be with had this unexpected, implacable baggage? WHAT WOULD I DO? But it also seeks to answer smaller, more universal questions that we all have to ask at some point. Who is worth forgiving? At what point is someone so far gone that they can’t be changed? Who’s worth fighting for? Am I worth fighting for?

And I like that about Fitzpatrick’s books. She doesn’t shy away from what’s heavy. She writes for a younger audience, but she doesn’t discredit them by ignoring broad, sweeping topics. She gets real, you guys. But she peppers her ~realness~ with humor, often in the forms of funny little kids, which is such an effective element, particularly in this book.

I like almost everything about this book. I think the characters are real, complex and flawed and I enjoyed re-entering the world of the Garretts that was established in My Life Next Door. It’s almost like a sequel, but with different leading characters and—dare I say it? A better story. I think Fitzpatrick’s plot works because she takes a storyline that you might think is a cliché, but she flips it on its head and makes it new. I think the same can be said of her other books as well.

The one aspect of her book that I’m not on board with is the way that some of her characters occasionally speak. Tim, in particular, nicknames almost every person he meets. I think that was Fitzpatrick’s attempt to make Tim feel 17 and young and flip, but I wasn’t convinced. I don’t think immediately nicknaming people comes naturally. I could see him giving a couple key characters nicknames out of fondness and after some time, but not everyone. It was a bit exhausting.

But other than that, I truly adored reading The Boy Most Likely To. Fitzpatrick crafted a deeply consuming story with characters I feel like I know. She gives girls an awesome role model in Alice and shows what certain sacrifices may be worth making. She’s finding my generation’s stories and she’s unabashedly flexing that for the world. We need books like this, ones that will give credit where credit’s due, and tell the stories we didn’t know we needed to be told.

I don’t know if that really sums up my feeling toward The Boy Most Likely To, so I’ll end it with this: The book just worked for me. It isn’t perfect and there are definitely parts that I would change, but the heart of it is just what I wanted. I feel like it understands me and I understand it, and that’s what we all want from a good book, right?