My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park
by Steve Kluger
Publishing Information: Dial Books: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9780803732278 / 9780142413432 (PB)
Pages: 403 p.
Ages: 12 & Up
T.C. doesn't expect ninth grade to be anything other than ordinary, but that was before Alejandra Perez moved to his town near Boston. Her father is a retired Ambassador to Mexico and she knows people like Hillary Clinton and Prince William. T.C. falls for her and falls hard, but the road to true love is never smooth, especially when your very existence annoys the girl you like.
T.C.'s "brother"-since-they-were-six-years-old, Augie Hwang, isn't having an easy love life, either. It sure isn't like it is in the musicals Augie adores. When love does finally arrive, it shows up in a form he never expects and he has to decide who he really is—hotshot soccer star, theatre diva, or something in between.
Alejandra's also confused. Can you be the perfect Ambassador's daughter if every time you meet a head of state you start an international incident? But after being cast in a Broadway musical, how can she explain her longing for something different to parents who have her whole life mapped out?
Using instant messages, emails, diary entries, letters to celebrities, and more, T.C., Augie, and Alejandra each tell the story of their ninth grade year—a year filled with music, baseball, politics, Mary Poppins, and the six-year-old boy who ties them all together. It wasn't the year they expected, but in the end they could all say it was My Most Excellent Year. (from Novelist, 2009)
I appreciate your recent interest, but I'm not accepting applications at this time. Your letter will be kept in our files and someone will get back to you if there is an opening. Thank you for thinking of me.
P.S. It's not “Allie.” It's “Ale.”
Meet T.C., who is valiantly attempting to get Alejandra to fall in love with him; Alejandra, who is playing hard to get and is busy trying to sashay out from under the responsibilities of being a diplomat's daughter; and T.C.'s brother Augie, who is gay and in love and everyone knows it but him. (from the Penguin.com website http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780803732278,00.html?My_Most_Excellent_Year_Steve_Kluger)
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Awards & Reviews:
ALA Rainbow List, 2009
Georgia Peach Book Awards for Teen Readers Nominee, 2010
Booklist, March 15, 2008, p. 49
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1, 2008
Horn Book Magazine, May 1, 2008
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2008 (Starred Review)
Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2008, p. 80
School Library Journal, April 1, 2008, p. 143
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, December 1, 2008
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
- What makes up a “traditional” family? How does the meaning of family differ in this book?
- Was the rotating narrative an effective way to tell this story? Whose point of view did you like most and why?
- Activism for different causes is a big theme in this book. What is a local cause in your community that you could support? How would you go about doing it?
- Do you think you would enjoy the assignment of writing about your “most excellent year?” What year would you pick?
- Ale has been lucky enough to have met many famous people, from government dignitaries to pop stars. Which three people would you want to have dinner with?
- T.C., who is straight, loves baseball. Augie, who is gay, loves musical theater. Do you think these stereotypes are always true? Are they negative stereotypes?
- Why is T.C. so drawn to and protective of Hucky?
Author's Website: http://www.stevekluger.com
Publisher's Site for the author: http://harpercollins.com/authors/17275/Steve_Kluger/index.aspx
The Fabulous World of Augie Hwong: http://www.augiehwong.com/
T.C.'s Free Buck Weaver Site: http://www.freebuckweaver.com/
T.C.'s Bring Baseball Back to Manzanar Site: http://www.manzanarbaseball.com
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Liz Craft, 2006
Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Judy Gehrman, 2008
The Four Dorothys by Paul Ruditis, 2007
The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, 2004 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
Is He or Isn’t He? by John Hall, 2006
The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper, 2008
Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws by Janette Rallison, 2006
Naomi and Ely’s No-Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, 2007
Suite Scarlet by Maureen Johnson, 2008
Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloane, 2006
Two Parties, One Tux and a Very Short Film About The Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman, 2008 (2010 RITBA Nominee)
Other Books by the Authors:
Changing Pitches, 1984
Last Days of Summer, 1998
Almost Like Being in Love, 2004
About the Author:
I'm an author and playwright from Baltimore, Maryland, who grew up with only two heroes: Tom Seaver and Ethel Merman. Few were able to grasp the concept. A veteran of Casablanca and a graduate of The Graduate, I've written extensively on subjects as far-ranging as World War II, rock and roll, and the Titanic, and as close to the heart as baseball and the Boston Red Sox (which frequently have nothing to do with one another). Doubtless due to the fact that I'm a card-carrying baby boomer whose entire existence was shaped by the lyrics to Abbey Road, Workingman's Dead, and Annie Get Your Gun (my first spoken words, in fact, were actually stolen from The Pajama Game), I've also pursued a somewhat weird path as a civil rights advocate, campaigning for a "Save Fenway Park" initiative (which qualifies as a civil right if you're a Red Sox fan), counseling gay teenagers, and—on behalf of Japanese American internment redress—lobbying the Department of the Interior to restore the baseball diamond at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Meanwhile, I donate half my spare time to organizations such as Lambda Legal Defense, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and Models of Pride, and give the rest of it to my nieces and nephews—the nine kids who own my heart.
I live in Santa Monica, California, but have my baby blues fixed firmly east on Boston. (originally found at www.stevekluger.com)