From Publishers Weekly
This coming-of-age debut about a 16-year-old's attempt to get popular by becoming a drug addict is charming, poignant, and engrossing—to a point. I am just another kid in another mall with ripped jeans and doodles on his Converses, says Doug Schaffer, and he's not entirely wrong. Angry with his single mom because she spends all of her time thinking about his pigskin pope football-hero brother who's off in Iraq, and fixated on a girl from the mall where he works, Doug is painfully self-aware that he is a cliché. But through Sloan's on-point writing, Doug comes alive, even if he doesn't come close to achieving his goal of becoming a meth addict, or I will kill myself trying. He runs with the idea long enough, though, to step outside the skin of a high school dork to be turned on to nightclubs, parties, girls, and being thought of as something special. The ending, though, is a disappointment. Once Doug's brother returns, the sharp, uncommon narrative turns as dismissive as any parent who ever wished their kid would just shut up. (June)
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"Maya Sloan's characters could be deemed purely comic if they weren't so realistic, tender if they weren't so jaded, and heartwarming if their lives weren't so heart-wrenching. All of which makes this a darkly compelling -- possibly controversial -- coming-of-age novel. High Before Homeroom
is a wild debut from a brilliant new novelist."
-- Julianna Baggott, author of The Miss America Family
and co-author of Which Brings Me to You
"Here's a confession: I like Doug Schaffer more than I ever liked his idol Dean Moriarty, and I had much more fun reading Maya Sloan's High Before Homeroom
than I ever had reading its literary progenitor, On the Road
--Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
and Bad Mother
"Funny and poignant, this energetic coming-of-age novel about a young outsider who takes a radical path to coolness marks Maya Sloan as an engaging new young novelist to watch."
--Rilla Askew, author of Harpsong
"No matter how profane it may seem at times, High Before Homeroom,
like Youth in Revolt,
is ultimately a charming take on one nerd's coming of age. In this assured debut, Maya Sloan clears the gender barrier, giving us the hapless Doug Schaffer, sixteen and obsessed with sex, love and Kerouac."
--Stewart O'Nan, author of Snow Angels
and The Speed Queen
"I love this book. Doug Schaffer -- sixteen years old and in an almost-constant state of arousal, as only a sixteen-year-old boy can be -- is everything you'd hope for in a narrator:disarmingly honest and irreverent and affable and funny -- very funny. Maya Sloan is a mad scientist of a novelist, filling her Petri dish with the cells of J. D. Salinger, William Burroughs, and Mark Twain, but ultimately this novel is her own glorious creation: a smart and wholly original take on what it means to yearn, in all its manifestations, in the 21st century."
-- John McNally, author of After the Workshop
"Searing one moment, laugh-out-loud funny the next, Maya Sloan's High Before Homeroom
is an honest, surprising, and dazzling debut."
-- Davy Rothbart, FOUND Magazine
and This American Life