From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Leon Sanders, 17, a self-described geek, craves the attention of perfection-personified Amy Green, who consistently ignores him. Resigned to life on the fringes of his suburban high school, he takes comfort in knowing that another junior scores zero for popularity: Melody Hennon, whose severely burned face has made her an outcast. When Leon tells Melody a bad joke and gets a genuine laugh, he is surprised to find an actual person behind the scars, and soon discovers that she shares his interests and offbeat humor. When Melody confides the details of her childhood accident, he tells her about a humiliating encounter with a bully that left him emotionally scarred. As their friendship turns to romance, Leon worries about the opinions of others, but people are accepting of their relationship. Then Leon finally catches Amy's eye. Faced with a dilemma, he allows himself to be lured away from the devastated Melody, but is soon overwhelmed by the emotional consequences. Leon's self-deprecating, ironic humor keeps an authentic edge running through the story as he explores new relationships and roles, and wrestles with doing the right thing. Melody is a resilient young woman whose experience with Leon helps her develop self-confidence. This is a strong debut novel with a cast of quirky, multidimensional characters struggling with issues of acceptance, sexuality, identity, and self-worth.—Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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Three billion women in the world, and the universe couldn’t spare one for Leon Sanders. Leon is a D & D-playing, Monty Python-watching, lame joke–telling, high-school junior. An act of kindness with loner Melody, a burn victim with severe scars and facial disfigurement, leads to friendship and then romance. Leon enjoys her company but worries about what others think, while Melody revels in feeling beautiful for the first time. Following a familiar plot trajectory, Leon pushes Melody aside after the class hottie, Amy, makes her move on him. First-time author Katcher pulls out a nice twist at the end, revealing Melody to be a girl who has been through fire both literally and figuratively and has emerged with uncommon strength. This is a successful blend of laugh-out-loud humor and a serious look at relationships. The secondary characters are delightful, including ADHD friends Jimmy and Johnny, Parking Lot Pete, and even Dan, the junior Hannibal Lector, who has more heart than he lets on. Recommend this to fans of John Green’s books; Katcher is an author to watch. Grades 8-11. --Cindy Dobrez