Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson

From Amazon: A gay Lutheran teen, Charles James Stewart II (aka Smart-ass) chronicles a very memorable senior year at South High in Crystal Lake, Ill. Named after his aspiring state's attorney dad (whom he calls First), Charlie uses journal entries to chart his feelings with typical teen angst: griping about his parents, describing his unrequited passion for straight friend Bink Binkmeyer and skewering school. His less private tirades soon land him in trouble with Mrs. Bailey, a New Agey English teacher, and with icky fellow student Kyle Weir, a homophobic anti-Semite. The most hilariously heated entries depict falling in love for the first time with Rob Hunt (whose mother, Kathy, is in quite serious condition with ALS). Throughout the diary, Charlie keeps revising his college application essay, and it's not easy for him to watch his parents' marital troubles during First's campaign—or just to be a gay 17. Ferguson's exuberant portrait successfully re-creates coming-of-age's dizzy heat.

Let me start by saying there is a lot of sex in this book. A lot of sex. Gay, straight, alone – explicitly detailed sex. With that out of the way, Charlie the Second (the son of Charles the First, a state’s attorney) is skinny, has big ears, and is not one of the cool kids. He’s a little in lust with his best friend Bink (not to mention Bink’s older brother), who has started ditching Charlie for his new girlfriend. At the beginning of the school year, Charlie meets Rob, a new kid at school, and they start to hit it off. Their friendship quickly turns into a relationship, but issues with both sets of parents, homophobia, and Rob’s sexual experience combined with Charlie’s inexperience might be more than they can handle. This is definitely not a book for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted things to work out for a fictional couple as much as I wanted things to work out for Charlie and Rob. One of my most favourite books of 2009, I can't wait to read more by Drew Ferguson.

I found out about this book through a review at Bookshelves of Doom.
Find out more about the book and the author at Drew Ferguson's website.

Read it with:
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Band Fags! - Frank Anthony Polito
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Swim the Fly - Don Calame
Carter Finally Gets It - Brent Crawford

I got this book: from the library


  1. Absolutely loved this book. One of my proudest moments EVER is when Drew Ferguson commented on my blog post about this book.

    Also, he very kindly answered three very squee-stalker emails from me. In which he told me he's working on a sequel where Charlie is in college.


  2. OMG (and yes, my brain literally thought "OMG," something I never say in person), that just about blew my mind. I cannot wait.

  3. Hey, Caroline & Nikki! Drew Ferguson is a terrific author and a great guy. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years back and even gave my first "blurb" to CHARLIE THE SECOND. Glad to hear you enjoyed his book.

    --Frank Anthony Polito,
    author of BAND FAGS! and DRAMA QUEERS!