Book 2 in the 12x12 challenge, and it's not even the middle of January! I'm going to list Grasshopper Jungle as my "book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller." Technically, it was recommended by Penny Kittle (author of Book Love) at the CEL convention. Penny maintains that we need to get kids reading, so we need to recommend books they'll love. If you're an adolescent male, you'll love Grasshopper Jungle. If you don't mind listening to the musings of a sex-crazed and sexually-confused 16-year-old narrator, then you'll enjoy Grasshopper Jungle. If you're offended by a line like, "Having balls with the same name as your best friend's is a serious social blunder," then perhaps Grasshopper Jungle is not for you.
I found the book surprising in a number of ways. I spent 27 years in the classroom with 16-year-olds, so I'm not surprised by anything they think (or will talk about out loud sometimes), and Rolling Stone's review starts with "raunchy," so I wasn't put off by the many, MANY sexual references and some profanity. I WAS surprised that I really enjoyed this narrator and his best friend Bobby--they're irreverent but at times hilarious. And they're trying to save the world, so you've gotta cut them some slack. I was surprised at the plot twists--things didn't go the way I expected them to go, and I love that in a book. I love it when books portray the messy, confusing, and realistic way our lives really evolve, so I was really pleased that this book didn't end the way I thought it would. Having said that, it is a book about the end of the world by way of 6-foot praying mantis monsters with razor sharp teeth on their arms who will pull off your head and then swallow you whole, so do be prepared to suspend your "reality meter" with this one. I would put this high on a list of YA books for teen boys (with parents who realize fiction is not going to corrupt them).