Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy 
Author: Michael Barakiva
Release date: May 27, 2014
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MacMillan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening line: “Alek stared at the menu suspiciously. He smelled marinara sauce and a trap.”

I chuckled as soon as I read this first line. I teach a lesson to my freshman students about using a strong opening line to catch a reader's interest, and Barakiva’s opening line in One Man Guy has now been added to my lesson. This book will be purchased and added to my classroom bookshelf for the start of next school year.

I knew immediately from that opening line that I was going to like Alek, and I do. Alek lives by a set of rules, often based on his family’s expectations and obligations, but he also has some clear values of his own that help him determine what is right and wrong. In this story he pushes the boundaries of those rules as he works to discover who he is, but also has the courage to be honest when he’s called to be and understands when he’s pushed the boundaries a little too far.

I loved the solidness of Alek’s Armenian family. I think I loved it because it reminds me of my own. In a lot of the YA novels that I read, I don’t see the type of family unit that appears in One Man Guy: the loving parents and siblings who support each other, while also getting on each other’s nerves at times. I think this family relationship works to create the background that Alek needs to safely journey on his road to self-discovery the summer between his freshman and sophomore year.

There are so many lines in this book that I marked as I read, so I can’t help but share a couple.

This first one comes from Alek’s best friend, Becky, whom I adore. She is quirky and fun and just the type of supportive best friend I hope all people get a chance to experience. Becky loves classic films and one of the lines I love starts with Alek asking, “Do you think you spend too much time obsessing over movies?” To which, Becky replies, “Well, what else am I going to do? Live my life? I’d rather watch attractive, well-dressed people do it for me.” (Hehe…)

Here’s a line I love from Alek as he is breaking down his thoughts for Becky and trying to decide if he likes boys: “No, I mean, it’s like all my life I’ve been eating frozen yogurt. And kissing boys is ice cream.” (How perfect is that comparison? Am I right? Awesome line!)

Final one, I promise! This one makes me go, Rule followers of the world unite!, because I can hear both my mom and myself confessing feeling guilty about something like this. Alek’s mom shares that she slips a strand of dill for garnishing in her package of parsley when she grocery shops. She says, “And I feel terrible about it….After all, it’s theft. What if the person at the cash register realized? Or I were captured on one of those video cameras? Can you imagine the scandal?” (Yes! Yes, I can Mrs. Khederian.)

Okay, people, this novel about self-discovery is one that you will love. I promise. So go check it out!

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  1. I reviewed it in May and I loved this one too. I know it worked for the story to have them away, but I would have liked to have Alek's family around for the whole book. They were great in their crazy way.

  2. Thanks so much for writing such a thorough and loving review - the first scene of the book was actually the last one I wrote, and I had a blast doing it. I'm even thinking of making it into a one-act play.