When I was a kid I loved this The Babysitter’s Club spin-off series that was a set of diaries called The California Diaries by Ann M. Martin. I could not get enough of these books and every time I found one at the library I would grab it and hold on to it for dear life. Because of these books I have tried on many occasions to get into the habit of writing in a journal. It’s never been a habit that sticks. This blog is the closest thing to a journal I have, although I love to buy pretty journals. Someday I may write epic things in my journals but not anytime soon.
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger has a similar format. The book is written in journal style and includes some emails, instant messages, letters, etc. and instead of being from just one person’s point of view it switches between three people. T.C., Augie, and Alejandra. I usually really love journal style writing, but in this book, because it incorporates different styles, and various points of view, I wasn’t as big a fan. I liked the book, but I didn’t REALLY like it.
The plot goes a little something like this:
T.C., Augie and Alejandra are assigned a journal assignment for school and begin writing down the events that happen in their life and the emotions brought about by them. We find out that T.C’s mother passed away when he was only a small child, and he and Augie became best friends and self-proclaimed brothers shortly after. Alejandra is the daughter of the former ambassador of Mexico, and never really fit in at home or at school. She feels she’ll let down her family if she doesn’t pursue a career in politics, but all she really wants to do it be a performer. At school people think she is a snob because of her status, and the “name dropping” that sometimes happens. She’s met a lot of celebrities.
T.C. falls for Alejandra and tries all sorts of schemes to get her to like him back, however she’s a little too wise for that and all she wants (cause she secretly likes him too) is for him to just be himself. Augie is just starting to figure out that he’s gay (much to nobody’s surprise) and has developed a crush on a boy on the football team who seems to reciprocate those feelings.
One of the biggest plot points in when T.C. meets Hucky, a deaf six-year-old boy living in a home for deaf children. At first T.C. thinks that this little boy is some apparition of his late mother because he’s telling T.C. which pitches to swing on, resulting in T.C. getting a lot of hits. He finally discovers that this little boy is in fact just a boy and tries to befriend him by learning American Sign Language. As T.C. and Hucky develop a relationship it allows T.C. to be able to accept his mother’s death, and helps Hucky, who loves Mary Poppins and wants more than anything for her to come live with him, realize he’s not alone.
There are two gut-wrenchingly sweet parts in this book that I want to mention. Well, there are actually more than that but I’m only going to mention the two. First, there’s a scene where Augie is talking to Hucky and Hucky asks if he could be brothers with Augie and T.C. as well. Augie responds by saying that he already is, and sometimes things like that happen without even trying. The second heart-wrenching scene is when T.C. and Hucky sneak to New York to meet Julie Andrews and she tells Hucky, as Mary Poppins, that she can only go live with children who are alone, and since he has T.C. now he’s not alone anymore.
So what is this book really about? Self discovery? Coming of age? Learning that if you set your mind to something you can accomplish anything? Sure, it’s all of those things. It’s also a story about love and friendship and how no matter what happens in this world there are always people who love and care for you and will support you through anything, even if you think you are alone.