Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach
Review by: Lauren
Copy from Sourcebooks
Summary: In the first book, Stupid Fast, Felton Reinstein went through a lot of changes and became an incredibly fast, wonderful athlete. It's the next summer though and his girlfriend, Aleah, decided to go to Germany for the summer and the two of them to go on a break. At the same time, his mom is doing better, but now his younger brother, Andrew, might have run away and Felton goes on a road trip to bring him back home.
Review: There isn't really a nice, official review that I can find for this book so I tried to do my own. To be honest, though, it's probably easier to understand if you just read the rest of this. First off, Nothing Special is the sequel to Stupid Fast but you don't need to read the first...though I would recommend it, as I highly enjoyed Stupid Fast when I reviewed it. It's fascinating to get inside of Felton's head, as he's pretty honest about the things that he can see. Nothing Special is a lot about him coming to terms with the world around him and how his actions have consequences. He's upset about things in his own life and he takes that out on his brother, Andrew, who he doesn't realize is going through a really hard time as well.
Instead of going to camp, Andrew takes off for Florida. I can't really say the reasons why as it would give a large part of the story away. But the reasoning behind it is just to get on his own, try and figure himself out, and because he's also really angry with Felton and the lack of concern he seems to show for other people. It isn't that Felton doesn't care though. He just gets stuck in his head a lot. Nothing Special allows you a look into Felton's head, but the entire book is written after the events...so you understand that Felton has learned a lot and that he regrets the things he did in the past, which is nice. It makes it easier to relate to him and empathize with what he's done, as well as what he's been through.
The entire book is written as a journal that he addresses to his girlfriend, Aleah, who he also does a lot of thinking about and he must come to see things from her point of view and how he didn't always do so. This book is perfect for the summer, though, and not just because it takes place then, but because it's sort of a trip novel. The current moment is Felton traveling to Florida near the end of the summer and the planes and bus trips he must go on to get there. The places he goes are mentioned, but it's not really about that. It's a trip, yes, but it's very much a mental journey. At the same time, Felton is telling Aleah about the trip earlier in the summer when he and his friend, Gus, drove to Florida to find Andrew and figure out just what is going on with him. This is a wonderful moment in the book as it shows how a long-running friendship can change as people get older and develop other friends and interests. Gus is angry at Felton too, and he clearly shows it, but by the end of the trip, they both realize what they have done wrong in terms of their frienship.
Nothing Special would be a great book for people graduating, even though Felton is not, just because it deals a lot with worries and fears about the future and wanting to just do things for the love of it, and not because you want to be famous or have people tell you how wonderful you were. Just do things for fun sometimes. Do what you love. Surround yourself with people you love. This is also a wonderful statement about family and how you can be so close to people, and yet not really know them at all. You have to be there for the ones in your life, be open to them, and yet, understand that you are all your own people and you can't judge yourself in comparison to others.
Wonderful book. Felton is a great narrator. There are some wonderfully profound moments in this book, but it's also funny and sad and adventurous and brave and exciting and maddening and just a great story.
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