There’s something to be said for reading a contemporary book that it seems hasn’t yet been widely reviewed by other book bloggers. I feel a bit like an explorer right now. Dear Life, You Suck is a debut novel by Scott Blagden. Set in Maine, Dear Life, You Suck follows Cricket Cherpin who has a depressing back story and a not-so bright future. When a new girl steps into Cricket’s life, he realizes that it does not have to ‘suck’, that in fact there might just be happiness in store for him despite the circumstances.
Cricket’s parents are drug addicts who live in a seedy part of Boston. As a ward, Cricket lives in a Catholic home for boys in Maine run by nuns. He is constantly getting in trouble at school for fighting. Yet, he sees the fighting as justified because he is trying to help the little ones, or the younger boy orphans. You see, Cricket is the oldest one at the home so the others look up to him and see him as a sort of protector. He’s learned his fighting skills from Caretaker, this man who does exactly what his nickname says, maintenance for the group home. After getting into a fight, Cricket finds himself in trouble with the school. He is apathetic because he knows he doesn’t have a future. Yet, there’s people in his life who root for him — Mother Mary and a teacher whom he calls Moxie. What Dear Life, You Suck is all about is Cricket’s coming of age and the dynamic development of his character.
Cricket starts out as a total ne’er do well. He is rude, disrespectful and a bit offensive in the beginning. He thinks a lot about female chests. Essentially, he feels quite the authentic teenage boy to me. Yet, there’s a hidden side to Cricket Cherpin. There’s a side of him who loves dancing on the fire escape by his room. There’s a side that seems to enjoy writing. There’s a vulnerable, sort of paternal side. I liked that Blagden incorporated different dimensions to Cricket and made him seem deep. I also like that we don’t get his entire backstory until the end of Dear Life, You Suck. However, Cricket is very, very violent. Granted, he is only violent towards bullies, however, several characters question his propensity towards assault and whether there might be a better way to solve his issues.
Now, there is a romance in Dear Life, You Suck. However, it is not the sort of romance that is super cute and tied up with a bow or anything. Cricket has a long standing crush on Wynona Bidaban who dates the bully that Cricket comes to blows with. She comes from a different world than Cricket. Yet, there’s a sort of draw between the two as a tenuous trust is built between them. It’s not romantic on the level of say, Anna And The French Kiss, but it’s still a well-written, well-developed element of the story and one that I enjoyed.
I imagine Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden will be a hard sell, what with the really unique/sort of beat poetry but with prose kind of voice. Yet, I really liked Blagden’s Dear Life, You Suck. It spoke to me. BUT I think that it’s not going to appeal to everyone. There’s a lot of swears and drug use. I know that plenty of readers are not into the gritty. This book gets gritty. I also know that sometimes books that have a unique voice don’t always go over too well. However, I would say give this book a chance, Blagden writes with a sort of driving cadence that really works for the tone of the story. I honestly think teenagers should read this book, and it might really appeal to teenage boys.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine