No one ever said high school was easy, and Will Carter found that out the hard way in 2009's Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford. But did Carter really learn anything? We find out in the sequel, Carter's Big Break.
Will Carter returns with his hilarious observations and disastrous ideas as he tries to sustain his success, his relationship with Abby, and become a big star all at the same time.
When we first met Carter in Finally Gets It, he was trying to survive his freshman year of high school and win over the previously “chubby” Abby. In Big Break, Carter has somehow managed to navigate his way to the end of the year, and we join him as he starts the summer off. Carter is hanging out with his friends, trying to avoid helping his dad build a deck, and hoping not to scare off Abby.
Once again, we find Carter stumbling through life. At one point, he lands on his feet with a surprise role in a movie being filmed in his town. Another time however, he crashes his bike while trying to look cool in front of his friends and gets a face full of concrete.
Brent Crawford writes Carter’s story with the same fast pace that we sometimes experience in life – events tend to blend together, and before you know it the summer is over.
The dialogue of Big Break seems to be more mature than Crawford’s previous novel. Carter and his friends are typical teenage boys: they make fun of each other, shout rude things at strangers, and make dirty jokes at the least opportune moment. Carter and his buds are vulgar and disgusting – and also hilarious.
What strikes me about Carter and his experiences in life is that through it all, he seems extremely honest. We are often presented with characters whose viewpoint may not only be unreliable, but could possibly be completely imagined. I think Carter is truthfully relating his story the best way he knows how – with humor and color commentary.
Carter often thinks or says aloud the things we all tend to think – although not very eloquently. At one point in the novel, when Carter is introduced to a new workout technique, he says, “And just so you know, if someone asks you if you want to do some Pilates, tell them NO!” Thanks for the advice, Carter.
What can we take away from Carter and his big break? Is this the secret world of teenage boys we have been waiting for? Maybe it’s not such a secret after all. Can we really see inside the mind of those we can’t understand? Carter may have a lot of excuses for his behavior, but his thought process is interesting and entertaining. This may not be a “how-to” guide for understanding the teenage male mind, but it’s definitely fun to read.
About the Author
Megan Garrett is the librarian at the Sugar Creek Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. She also writes book reviews for the Independence Examiner newspaper.