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The Gospel According to Larry (The Larry Series) Hardcover – October 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Larry Series
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805063781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805063783
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,699,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Written as an alleged account that a teen prophet handed to the author to publish, Tashjian's (Tru Confessions) funny, thoughtful novel takes on some sophisticated issues. Highly intelligent 17-year-old Josh Swensen wants to save the world and hopefully seduce Beth, the best friend for whom he pines. Josh's self-deprecating, humorous tone carries readers swiftly along ("Can someone please explain to me how this preoccupation with dopey athletes happens even to headstrong young women who... score 750s on their SATs?" he says when Beth gravitates to "Todd Terrific, a new jock she was obsessed with"). As the anonymous Larry, the hero starts a Web site ( on which he rants against consumer culture and its obsession with celebrities. But as Larry's popularity grows, Josh's identity becomes impossible to hide, forcing him to reevaluate his medium for instigating change. The popularity of his site which contains his "sermons," photos of some of his 75 possessions and parodies of ad campaigns may not be entirely convincing to some teens, but his compelling character and other clever flourishes, like Larryfest, the advertising-free rock festival put together by U2's Bono, or the make-up counter at Bloomingdale's, where Josh goes to connect with the spirit of his dead mother, keep the novel clipping along. Tashjian not only gives readers a good primer on materialism (and Thoreau), she also makes them think about a different kind of activism. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Josh is bright, articulate, idealistic, and in love with Beth, the girl next door and his best friend since sixth grade. Afraid to declare himself-especially in light of Beth's flirtations with a socially connected but intellectually suspect football player-he pours his energy into a clever Web site, through which his alter ego, Larry, advocates introspection, tolerance, and anticonsumerism. Beth adores Larry, as do thousands of other teens and adults across the nation. Now Josh has a new problem: when and how does he reveal Larry's true identity to Beth? Also, all of his best intentions become subverted as more people embrace Larry's values and a media circus ensues as Josh's identity is revealed. Big issues are addressed here: alienation, truthfulness, family loyalty, fame, privacy, friendship and love, and spiritual guidance. Larry's sermons are brief and pithy, and interspersed between Josh's fast-paced narrative of the events of the spring before his high school graduation and that summer. Tashjian's gift for portraying bright adolescents with insight and humor reaches near perfection here. The author proposes one more conceit on top of the Josh/Larry dichotomy: she offers herself as a character, presenting Josh's narrative as the purported manuscript she is handed in a grocery-store parking lot. A terrific read with a credible and lovable main character.

Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

It's well thought out and engaging with likable characters.
I would recommend this book to anybody who does not like society's love of looking good at any cost.
Heather's BMS Literary Corner
This is a really funny book, because I can totally imagine something like this actually happening!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Tessler on November 8, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Gospel According To Larry by Janet Tashjian is a very uplifting novel about a boy named Josh who rights internet sermons under the name of Larry about anti-consumerism, and gains a huge following with still no one knowing who he is. The novel is written extremely well and brings the reader in.

There are many strengths in this novel. It is written in the first person and seems like you are actually in the book with Josh, getting the big picture by using descriptive writing, An example of this is a quote about how he is in love with his best friend, Beth. "Good old Beth. I wanted to tell her she was the only person who truly comforted me when my mother died. But from my emotional straightjacket, all I said instead was Thanks. I shuffled off to my next class with my heart aching." The quote shows exactly how it feels and gives you a feeling of being there with him.

I would highly recommend this book to children and adults of any age. The story is very fun to read and hard to put down. I give the book 5 out of 5 stars, it is one of the best books I have read in awhile.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I ate 'TGATL' with a spoon. I literaly skipped out classes to read it. This is a great tale of Josh Swenson, a 17 year old senior struggling with the loss of him mother, teen issues, a crush on his best friend (Beth), and being a prodigy. He was doing equations with magnetic numbers when he was 2 and doing numerical equations on napkins for fun. This child genius lives with his step-dad who, oddly enough, is in the advertising business. Josh, who is very anti-consumerist, wants to express his feelings in secret, so he creates a virtual alter-ego, Larry. He creates a website nad give sermons about a different kind of activism. But when betagold hunts him down...well , I won't tell you the ending. I reccomend this book to anyone.
Oh, and for those who seem to believe no teenager thinks that way, you can look to your left, becasue I hear I am. I identify with Josh/Larry because I am very much like him.
2 thumbs up!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erika Sorocco on February 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Seventeen-year-old Josh Swensen is your not-so-average teenager, dealing with many normal teenage things. He worries about his placement in the social hierarchy of high school, and has been in love with his best friend, Beth, since the eighth grade. But where most teenagers are worried about passing their classes, Larry breezes through them with absolutely no sweat. You see, Josh is a genius. He taught himself how to do algebraic equations when he was just two-years-old, and since then he's always enjoyed learning. Which is what brings us to Larry. Josh, afraid of people not listening to his views on anticonsumerism, creates a website called THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LARRY, where he posts all of his views anonymously, and soon everyone in the country, teenagers and adults, are logging on and listening to everything that he has to say. Suddenly Larry is a God to everyone. The only problem is that now the whole world is trying to find out who the real Larry is, and Josh just feels trapped inside his own creation. Now it's up to him to figure out a way to dodge being exposed, or his life could be destroyed forever.
I picked this up at Barnes & Noble on a spur of the moment whim. I had never read anything by Janet Tashjian, or had even heard of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LARRY, but it sounded interesting, so I purchased it. Let me tell you, this book will change your life. Josh is a complex character, who creates almost an alter-ego with Larry, to vent out all of the frustrations he has in life, but is too afraid to say out loud. He is interesting, and intelligent, and captures the world, in his intricately written, and poignant views on anticonsumerism. I will be sure to pick up Tashjian's other novels, as this was absolutely amazing, and something that all teens should read. A must-have.
Erika Sorocco
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Deacon Brodie on June 14, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story of Josh Swenson, high-school senior, and all-around advocate for social consciousness, is framed by a fictitious Janet Tashjian being approached in the supermarket by a raggedy young man who says that he has a story to tell. The young man ends up being the main character himself, while the bulk of the real novel is the result of the dog-eared manuscript that the author reluctantly accepts.

The meta-fictive introduction (and ending) of this novel sold me on it, but the compelling story within convinced me that Tasjian is an author to watch, and that The Gospel According to Larry is a novel I will encourage my middle school students to read for years to come. It is a well-done bit of call to action disguised as a compelling piece of fiction. Or is it the other way around? While the preaching is a bit heavy-handed in the end, the novel's title certainly admits to this from the get-go, and the audience the novel is meant for is still at the age when a little spoon-feeding wouldn't hurt, when it comes to the social issues the author is addressing.

Seventeen-year-old Josh is the namesake behind his cyberspace pseudonym, Larry, who has gathered quite a following, due to his website that offers rants (sermons) on topics such as consumerism, environmentalism, and big-business bullying of the general public. Heavy subjects for the average young adult looking for a light read? Perhaps, but Tashjian's delivery of these subjects comes through Josh's youthful, and believable voice, and is juxtaposed with a suspenseful plot involving the young pundit's hidden identity, which he wholeheartedly attempts to conceal, as well as a love story subplot.

The book would appeal mostly to high-ability middle school readers and above, male and female.
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More About the Author

Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who's been writing books for children for fifteen years. Her first novel Tru Confessions was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. The Gospel According to Larry is a cult favorite and Fault Line is taught in many middle and high schools. Her novels My Life As a Book, My Life As a Stuntboy, and My Life As a Cartoonist are all illustrated by her teenage son, Jake. Their collaboration continues with Einstein the Class Hamster coming in August.

Janet lives with her family in Los Angeles, enjoying her respite from the long Boston winters. When she isn't writing, she's rewriting.

Janet has been doing school visits for fifteen years; you can email her at for details.

We invite you to follow her on Twitter @JanetTashjian and like her books on Facebook:

Plus, check out her YouTube Channel:

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