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Gospel according to Larry


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Janet Tashjian also wrote T"rue Confessions and Multiple Choice."


Gr 7-11-In this novel by Janet Tashjian (Holt, 2001), high school senior Josh Swenson is afraid to tell Beth, his best friend since sixth grade, that he's in love with her. Josh creates an anonymous Web site and an Internet persona named Larry to air his personal philosophy and dispense advice to the girl he loves. Larry is fast becoming a media sensation contrary to all the things Josh personifies. Framed by an artful disclaimer read by the author concerning how and why Josh's tale is being told for the first time, the story itself is read by Jesse Eisenberg who captures Josh's frenetic and sometimes manic style. A very nice pacing allows the Biblical quotes at section intervals to be set off clearly. The aural cues of a manual typewriter as Josh writes as Larry or the camera whir as he takes photos of his (and Larry's) limited possessions also help keep the story's different sections as clear in a listener's mind as they are on the printed page. Even the footnotes Josh inserts wryly come through well as Eisenberg uses a sotto voce delivery. As an auditory adaptation of a very visual book, this succeeds extremely well. The story's Internet-based plot combined with a fair amount of thought-provoking issues such as consumerism, tolerance, friendship, and love, will appeal to middle and high school students.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

The voice is clear, the ending satisfying. The readers will eat this one up. " Kirkus Reviews," Starred A terrific read with a credible and lovable main character. " School Library Journal," Starred"

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. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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