The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)
Coming in early April is a fun YA read that combines ideas about fame (and losing it), overachievement, first love, and whether newspapers are still relevant in the age of new media.
I know, it sounds ambitious, but Amy Spalding pulls it out through the lead character of Jules. As The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) opens, Jules is anxiously awaiting news on whether she or Natalie will be chosen editor-in-chief of the school paper.
Jules is also part of the Reception Committee, which is how she meets new student Alex Powell. Two years ago, Alex was part of the country’s biggest boy band. But nothing matched the popularity of their first single, so the group broke up, and Alex is trying to swap from being a teen idol to fitting back into normal life… well, as normal as you get at an expensive private school populated by California rich kids.
Jules has been so focused on making herself perfect for the Ivy League college she wants to get into that she hasn’t had a boyfriend. She’s got to cope with her new crush at the same time that that her beloved newspaper is under attack from a new student-produced video show, causing some discussion as to whether print deserves to stick around for reasons other than tradition.
I really enjoyed spending time with Jules. Her reactions and concerns felt realistic, particularly for a sympathetic type of reader. She feels like the least cool of her group of friends, because she doesn’t appreciate her own unique value. Alex doesn’t get as full a treatment — some of his actions and choices aren’t as understandable — but that fits in with how teen boys seem to their friends, sometimes.
Although Jules has a lot going for her, she’s as insecure as anyone else, which leads to the bad decisions that drive the events. Yet she’s determined and good-hearted, which counts for a lot. That’s why I devoured the story in one sitting, just to see her work through to a resolution she deserves. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)