Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park--Steve Kluger (Book review)

Many people loved My Most Excellent Year. My goodness, did they ever love it! It was the best book they read all year! Enormously fun! Emotionally satisfying! I thought it was . . . I dunno. Fine? Heartwarming and sweet to the Nth degree. A little long (416 pages), despite (or maybe because of) the varied format with three sit-com characters narrators interspersed with letters, Instant Messages, playbills, and so on.

The friendship between Showtune-singing Gay Boy (Augie) and Not-so-tough Boston Baseball Fanatic (T.C.) should have been right up my alley but something was missing. It was just too easy between them, I think. I wanted some conflict or tension, something more than the feel-good complete understanding and mutual adoration between these two so-different characters. Without that, I never quite managed to get past the cliches and into their hearts.

The highlight of the book is the deaf 6-year-old Hucky, who's grittier than all the other characters combined, and whose relationship with his unlikely hero, T.C., would make a great book if it wasn't overshadowed by saccharin-sweet romances between teens. And, I'm sorry: nobody learns sign language that fast.

I read My Most Excellent Year for the Mock Printz Awards. It's a fine book and you'll probably like it a lot better than I did, if the adoring reviews by Reviewer X or The YaYaYas are any indication. If in doubt, go to the book's promo site and see for yourself just how loveable it is, or go to Steve Kluger's website and see what an awesome guy he is. Sigh. How could I not love this book? Clearly I'm deranged.

Soundtrack: Click on the playlist in my sidebar to hear Ella Fitzgerald sing the song Augie uses to win back his sweetheart Andy: Always True to You in My Fashion from Kiss Me Kate.


  1. Well, I have to say I've never heard of this book, but I do love the cover.

  2. I've never heard of it, either!

  3. I read about 30 pages of this book, and I felt that was sufficient. What I read was sweet, and I laughed a bit, but I did not feel compelled to spend 416 pages with it.

  4. I don't think I'd heard of it, either, before it came up on my Mock Printz list.

    BermudaOnion, it wasn't until you said that, that I took a close enough look at the cover to realize it's not just a regular umbrella. I'm observant that way.

    Charley, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who felt that way! It really is a sweet story, but if it wasn't your style after 30 pages, you were probably right to set it aside.

  5. Aww! I'm sad to hear it didn't totally work for you! I still stand by my statement: This book kicked ass. I absolutely adored it. What I thought really worked is that it was very over the top and, like you guys said in the comments, very sweet, but somehow it remained believable. Very fun to read during a lazy weekend =)

    Thanks for linking to my review!


  6. saccharin-sweet is not my thing (and I'd have trouble with suspension of disbelief with the rapid learning sign language bit!).

    Hey, to each his own; there are plenty of books and readers out there ... I appreciate your honest review.