From Publishers Weekly
Henry Every, the titular boy in Shapiro's inventive but too precious debut novel, drowns under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 15, leaving behind a mother who's a little obsessed with ant farms, a father devoted to his jellyfish and boxing, and five years' worth of diary entries written on 2,600 pages of loose-leaf graph paper. This "ledger... is... a catalog of life's wee tics and pangs... threadbare confessionals, overheard dialogue transcriptions, [and] stabs at investigative journalism." For his estranged parents, Hannah and Harlan, it's a window on the wacky inner life of a deeply (but quite happily) odd teenager. Henry's antics and observations are endearingly offbeat for the most part, but become cloying at times: in answer to the essay question "Who are you?" he "found himself starting at the Precambrian era and sifting through four and a half billion years worth of being
." Though Shapiro serves up some wise, lovely characterizations (Henry's grandma Lulu, for example), the mostly light-and-sweet narrative stalls in moments of self-conscious precocity, when the author's fascination with Henry resembles a narcissistic adolescent crush. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, with Shapiro, whose documentary Murderball
won an Audience Award at Sundance this year, attached to write and direct.
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"A sweet, melancholy first novel...so many young writers have been described as Salingeresque that it's a shock to come across one who actually fits the bill." --Tom Perotta, author of Little Children
"A terrific writer with an unerring sense of how confusing it is to be 15 years old." The New York Times Book Review
"A magical, haunting, hilarious debut." --Amy Sedaris
"Anything but ordinary...You could black out every other paragraph in The Every Boy and it would still outcharm Catcher in the Rye." TimeOut New York
"Perversely funny." The New York Daily News
"Henry's mid-novel trip to New York cements the inevitable Holden Caufield parallel, but given Shapiro's coporeal take on youthful alienation, Gregor Samsa might be just as relevant." The Village Voice
"Full of charm and eccentricity." The Arizona Republic
"True to his surname, Henry's confessions record his conflicted progress through the stations of adolescence, the agonies all young people suffer as they struggle with Big Issues of growing up: how to fit in without relinquishing the right to be different, how to know whom to trust and whom to love, how to forgive our parents for the unforgiveable things they do to us." Boston Globe
"Remarkably buoyant and witty...[and] unsentimentally perceptive and optimistic about the oddness and difficulty and even, sometimes, the joy of being a human among humans." --Matthew Sharpe, author of The Sleeping Father