My daughter is not particularly crazy about reading, a fact that I take with a grain of salt since she’s an exceptional student. I feel like that makes up for my utter disappointment that she will never know the infinite pleasures of reading. But this doesn’t mean that I haven’t done everything in my power to browbeat her into literary submission. One of the many things that I have done in the past and the most obvious one, I would imagine, is that I have purchased a fair amount of books for her; all of which she personally selected. I think there are a total of thirty or so books in her room of which she has read a total of one. Her primary excuse for not reading for pleasure is that she already has to read mandatory books for school. Just so you have an idea of how these conversations typically transpire, here is our conversation from last Sunday night:
Me: What can I possibly do to get you to read more? I’ve even offered to pay you.
Her: I dunno. Get me audio books?
Me: That’s not reading. (Insert eye roll)
Her: Listen, I WISH I enjoyed reading if not for any other reason, I wish I loved it just so that I could get you off my back. But the reality is that I already HAVE to read a slew of truly crappy books for school. Right now we’re reading the Lord of the Flies and every time I open it a piece of me dies. It’s the WORST book EVER!!!!
Me: Hahahaha! You’re so dramatic. Fine! Be that way. Then I guess I’ll start reading your books so they won’t go to waste. I’ll let you know whether they’re any good.
Her: Excellent! You do that. Wanna read Lord of the Flies for me?
Me: No. I already have. And I concur, it is indeed a crappy book. Stop being lazy and hop to it.
Her: (Tips-over on her side, slowly melts backwards off my bed and lethargically drags herself out of my room, all the while complaining.) I haaaaaaaate school!!
And this, my friends, is precisely how I ended up reading We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist. As implied earlier, this is a teenybopper book. I kept having to remind myself of that fact. We Should Hang Out Sometime is a true story about a twenty-five year old single man that retrospectively analyzes his many failed quasi-romantic relationships. In this book he tells the stories of six failed attempts at love and one final successful one; though not mentioned in this book, I am fairly certain he may have attempted to date more than seven girls. Josh is a cancer survivor and an amputee as a consequence of the aforementioned. He had to have a leg amputated when he was ten years old.
So…here’s the deal. This critique is about the book and ONLY the book. I do not pretend to know the author. The book was okay. It had it’s funny moments and I loved the quirky graphs that were inserted sporadically throughout the book. A couple of times I even chuckled out loud.
In spite of the few funny moments, there was plenty of content in the book that made me extraordinarily uncomfortable. Yes, I did intend to say “extraordinarily”. It was that painful to read at times. I often cringed and gasped out loud. That’s how awkward it was. I’m not sure if the author was intentionally embellishing for comedic purposes or if he was being naively, fiercely candid. Either way, it made for an uncomfortable read. If he was embellishing for comedic effect then it was agonizingly obvious and therefore lost its effectiveness because it felt contrived. If, on the other hand, he was truly being brutally honest then it STILL made for an uncomfortable read because of his failed attempt to veil his insecurities with affected bombastic humor.
And by the way, this book is not about love. It’s about an amputated leg. The entire book revolves around the missing leg. He tries to blame all of his romantic misfortunes on his insecurities about his missing leg. But if you read the book, you’ll notice the missing leg or the insecurity about it is not what kept him single for so long. It was his complete inability to relate on a personal level. He over-analyzed the heck out of every situation whether it was minimal or significant. He memorized the names of every person in his year book so that he could greet them by name. He wrote down speaking notes prior to calling girls. He mentions on more than one occasion “She made a face that I could not read”. He planned and timed “serendipitous” encounters in order to meet a girl that he had essentially been stalking for months. He was unable to keep simple conversation. He got nervous and completely shut down at the sight of a girl that he liked. The list of examples of his social awkwardness is long…
He was easily embarrassed by pretty much anything. Based on his reactions to people mentioned in the book, he leads the reader to understand that he was very emotionally fragile while painstakingly displaying relentless self-deprecating humor to deter from the real issues. Unfortunately, he somehow always managed to make it worse by doing something socially awkward that would draw more attention to his social ineptitude. For example, he spent one summer calling a woman once a day for sixty days! Holy guacamole! Sixty phone calls???? And that was AFTER she had already said she wasn’t interested. One would think he would have possibly gotten the message after I dunno…the third unanswered phone call?!
Finally, the most uncomfortable part of the book was the heavy dose of self-pity which I really struggled to understand. You see, I had had a little “boyfriend” one summer while at horse camp when I was eleven years old. He too was an amputee. He was missing his right arm. But he was the coolest kid in our group. He was very confident and had no issues addressing the non-issue about his missing arm. If people asked him about it, he’d show them the stub and tell them the story about how he had lost it to cancer. He would even show off the fact that what was left of his arm was surprisingly strong. He had so much strength. He was a skilled equestrian. I was his little girlfriend but not first without putting up a good fight to thwart off another five contenders.I’m telling you. He was popular because he had realized early on that the everything else that he had to offer overshadowed the fact that he had one arm less than most.
Thankfully the book ended with a success story. I needed it because I was already hallucinating that Joni Mitchell was playing in the background and that I was battling through a recent bad break-up (which I wasn’t). Ha! I felt bad for the guy but not as much as he did. Like I said, thankfully it all worked out but getting there was harrowing. I gave the book three stars on Goodreads. I’d say, leave this one for the teenyboppers. I’m sure they’d love it.