Friday, October 28, 2011

Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

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SHAKESPEARE SHAPIRO HAS ALWAYS hated his name. His parents bestowed it on him as some kind of sick joke when he was born, and his life has gone downhill from there, one embarrassing incident after another. Entering his senior year of high school, Shakespeare has never had a girlfriend, his younger brother is cooler than he is, and his best friend's favorite topic of conversation is his bowel movements.

But Shakespeare will have the last laugh. He is chronicling every mortifying detail in his memoir, the writing project each senior at Shakespeare's high school must complete. And he is doing it brilliantly. And, just maybe, a prize-winning memoir will bring him respect, admiration, and a girlfriend . . . or at least a prom date.

“The son of an alcoholic father and a neurotic mother, Mr. Shapiro endured a torturous childhood, made worse by his social ineptitude and uncanny ability to transform any situation into a full-blown catastrophe.” - Chapter - Senior Year: September

I came across this book while patiently looking through every electronic YA title provided by my library. No, I really don’t have this kind of time in my life right now but often my obsession over books (and Brandon Flowers) takes precedence over sleep.

Shakespeare Shapiro is your run of the mill teenager with a semi-dysfunctional family, sexual obsession and the belief that his life must be worse than that of anyone else around him. While working on his senior project, a memoir of his life called “17 Down”, he learns that maybe his life doesn’t suck nearly as much as he likes to believe.

Jake Wizner has a wonderfully dry and sarcastic sense of humor that is slightly reminiscent of David Sedaris. The story starts out with a considerable amount of humorous moments. In line with where the story is going, the middle and end are a bit more serious as Shakespeare begins to realize how what he has in life compares to what others may or may not have at all. Have no fear, the satirical feel remains through out the book along with a considerable amount of bathroom humor. I found myself laughing out loud more times than I can count.

The pure honesty portrayed in this book completely won me over. There doesn’t seem to be anything that Shakespeare isn’t afraid to share with the reader. And the things he does to purposely rile up his parents are smart and hilarious. It truly is a witty read that I would recommend to most anyone. So much so that I passed it around at the dinner table when we had friends over so they could read Shakespeare’s obituary (which he had to write for a class project). It was a huge hit and I easily convinced three people to read it right then and there. Honestly, what could be a better sell that that?


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