Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo 2008
Hyperion/Disney Book Group
IQ "What can't be debated is that my story is definitely going to turn out to be a cautionary tale. Future mothers tucking their sons in at night will warn them, 'You'd better not try to get what you want in high school, or else you'll get Albert Kimmed' My name will become a national catchphrase denoting abject failure." Albert pg. 3
This is the story of Albert Kim, an intentional loser who falls in love with one of the most popular girls in school. Albert decides to be an intentional loser because he's tired of being made fun of and trying to make friends with people who are constantly laughing at him, why not just accept loser status and move on? Over the summer while working at a local Inn he meets Mia Stone, a surprisingly nice girl for someone who is so popular. He learns that she has just broke up with her long-time boyfriend, Ryan "The House" Stackhouse and lo and behold she thinks Albert is funny. They spend long days working together and by the end of the summer, she declares that they are "something". For the first time since starting high school, Albert is looking forward to the first day of school, entering the building with Mia on his arm. But then they learn that Ryan has cancer and he needs Mia to take care of him. Albert believes Ryan is using his cancer to get Mia back because he's still a jerk and his form of cancer requires radiation and is 95% treatable. Albert is determined to get Mia back, but the whole town of Bern is hoping for his failure.
I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would but I still enjoyed it. I think I was expecting more laugh-out-loud humor, but the humor here is more dry and you may miss some of the references and jokes. My biggest problem with Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before was Albert. It's not good when you don't like the main character. Perhaps I was like the rest of the kids at Albert's school, succumbing to the spell of The House. I thought Albert acted like an almost completely clueless jerk. I understand that The House was a jerk, I was Albert in wanting to shake Mia and get her to wake up on this issue. BUT Albert got so frustrated with Mia for just being a nice person and trying to help her ex-boyfriend (who she is still friends with). Some of Albert's jokes were in poor taste and at first it was amusing, after all in real life, people make awkward jokes in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Albert does this too often for my taste. Ultimately, I didn't have any sympathy for Albert.
Albert's parents are completely clueless as to what's going on in their son's life and I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I could understand why they don't ever question him if they worked two jobs or something like that, but Albert's father has one job (I think his mom works from home or is a housewife because she always makes dinner at 5) and they seem comfortably well off. However, I suppose I can believe that Albert's parents didn't care what he did as long as he got good grades and stayed out of trouble. Besides the parents and my issues with Albert, I thought this novel was really funny and it puts an original spin on the 'first love' story by having the ex boyfriend become an almost sympathetic character. Mia was a nice girl and I liked how she didn't care about what's on the outside. Contrary to popular thought it's not unheard of for a 'geek' to date a popular girl. Their relationship was realistic, full of confusing emotions and miscommunication. When they interact with each other, it's a lot of fun to read because their relationship is so cute.
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is a refreshing take on the classic first love story, full of humour, confusion, odd characters and characters that you almost feel sorry for but not quite. I would have liked to see Albert have more endearing qualities, more of the negative stuck out in my mind than the positive. Albert and Mia as a "something" is charming, they have lots of inside jokes and they are both incredibly patient with each other. It was nice to read about Albert giving up on being an intentional loser, he came out of his shell and started to meet people. The group of friends he starts to make is an eccentric and merry group. Read this book for the cute unnamed relationship and ignore the clueless parents and try to keep from wanting to smack Albert (if you've read this book than think about the Cancer Walk incident. I was so mad at him for this!). The ending was unexpected and I appreciated that.
Disclosure: From the library