Lulu and Will forge a seemingly unbreakable friendship and eventually become pseudo-girlfriend and boyfriend. They develop their own secret language and depend on each other almost completely for friendship and understanding. That is until Lulu leaves for cheerleading camp the summer before they begin high school. Will is distraught that he won't have Lulu with him for a full month, and this turns to complete devastation when Lulu returns completely changed. She no longer responds to their secret language. She locks herself away in her room most days. And, worst of all, she acts as though Will is invisible.
Throughout the rest of the book Will seeks to figure out what caused this change in Lulu. What happened while she was away? He spends years obsessed with her (and I have to admit it got a little creepy after awhile), but finally begins putting his life together. He gets his dream job as a radio announcer and even starts his own hot dog stand business with his Russian-immigrant landlord. Everything is running smooth until the last few chapters when he learns of events in Lulu's life and is pulled back into her orbit and finally learns what it was that pushed her away from him all those years ago.
I really enjoyed this book, if only because of its loveably oddball cast of characters. First, there's Will's father and twin brothers who are all body builders. Evison takes the term "meathead" literally with these three, making light of the fact that they eat meat for just about every meal. Will, a vegetarian, laments several times that he thinks his dad believes the world is made of meat.
Then we have his Russian-immigrant neighbor, his ghost cat (Frank), and his philosophy teacher, who I particularly love because he enabled Evison to use his Sweats to Pants Ratio, of which I've always been a huge fan:
I'm developing something I call the sweats to pants ratio (SPR), by which success is measured relative to the days one spends in formal versus casual attire (formal being anything with pockets). By this measure, seven days a week in sweats is the pinnacle of success. I'm at about five-to-two right now. Pretty damn succesful.
So, what did you think of this one?
This month, in the hopes of getting more participation, I thought I'd ask some direct questions as well. Here goes:
1. Were you able to discern the secret before the end of the book?
2. What was your favorite part of the book?
3. Who were your favorite characters?
4. What did you think of Will's obsession with Lulu? Did you find it realistic?
Also, you can get a book club reading guide for this book at Jonathan Evison's site.
Oh, one last thing: Tomorrow I will be announcing the book for next month, but I haven't selected anything yet. So if you have a suggestion, leave it below. And don't forget to enter to win one of three lovely books here. Tomorrow's the last day to enter!