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Review: Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin
August 2nd, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

16131059Wise Young Fool

by Sean Beaudoin

Hardcover, 448 pages

Pub date: August 6th 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

In Wise Young Fools, Ritchie Sudden has a deep connection to
music. His Les Paul guitar is practically his life, and there
is a funny scene of Ritchie dancing and playing in his underwear
in front of the mirror.
Teen rocker Ritchie Sudden is pretty sure his life has just jumped the shark. Except he hates being called a teen, his band doesn’t play rock, and “jumping the shark” is yet another dumb cliché. Part of Ritchie wants to drop everything and walk away. Especially the part that’s serving ninety days in a juvenile detention center.Telling the story of the year leading up to his arrest, Ritchie grabs readers by the throat before (politely) inviting them along for the (max-speed) ride. A battle of the bands looms. Dad split about five minutes before Mom’s girlfriend moved in. There’s the matter of trying to score with the dangerously hot Ravenna Woods while avoiding the dangerously huge Spence Proffer–not to mention just trying to forget what his sister, Beth, said the week before she died.This latest offering from acclaimed author Sean Beaudoin is alternately raw, razor-sharp, and genuinely hilarious.
POWERFUL. MEMORABLE.
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If you could take PAIN and ANGER and RESENTMENT and bottle them up and then spill them into a novel you’d get WISE YOUNG FOOL.

This novel opens with a plea to readers to help the editor find the author of this story. The manuscript landed on the editor’s desk three years ago. After a futile search, she couldn’t find its owner and so decided to publish it anyway. This opening certainly caught my attention. (Of course, we know who the author is, Sean Beaudoin, so suspend reality.)

His story goes back and forth between the present (in juvie) and his past (what led up to juvie).

Ritchie Sudden is a young man in a lot of pain. It pours out in his lyrics. It’s reflected in his relationships. It’s what lands him in juvie. It’s almost impossible to like him, until the very end when you begin to understand him. This is Ritchie’s story. He tells it with no apologies, no plea for compassion. It’s brittle, it’s a slash across one’s heart, leaving an open gash.

This is a snapshot of a time in Ritchie Sudden’s life. Miserable, destructive, creative (musically). Throughout the novel, there’s a lot of interesting wisdom in this novel – definitely shows how Ritchie does a hell of a great job self-destructing. For the most part, the majority of the adults are clueless on how to help Ritchie. Looper, his mother’s lesbian lover, is the most sympathetic, but for the most part, Ritchie ignores her advice, though I do think he “hears” her.

If you’re out there, Ritchie, I hope that you’ve found some peace. I can only imagine, but it seems like walking in your shoes is like a trip to HELL and back. Not that I really know. But like you, I’m going to imagine. I hope people read your story and learn some things from the pain you went through. Maybe then it was worth it? Live on. Live on. Wise. Young. Fool.


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