The Boy Recession
Pub 8-2012, Poppy, $17.99
If you’ve been searching for a light YA book to tuck into the folds of your beach bag, look no further. After the success of her first novel, Bloodthirsty, Flynn Meaney wrote a roman à clef titled The Boy Recession. The book chronicles the sudden mass departure of a chunk of Julius P. Heil High School’s male hunks and its aftermath.
The “boy recession” hits the school hard. Shocked at the thought of a 1:4 boy to girl ratio, the girls up their game to win over the remaining guys at Julius. Some boys use the recession to their advantage, while others, like the guitar-strumming slacker Hunter Fahrenbach, are simply overwhelmed. His good-natured friend and secret admirer Kelly Robbins is just as uncomfortable about the recession and struggles to find a way to stand out among the girls. In a brilliant plan that revives her school’s music program while involving her crush, she forms a club in which she and Hunter teach eager third-graders how to whistle melodies out of the flute and jam out to the drums. As their club grows in popularity, Kelly and Hunter’s tie to music and to each other grows stronger. But, with the flirtatious Diva Price, a member of the popular group the “Spandexers,” latching onto Hunter whenever possible, the intimidated Kelly must find the guts to tell Hunter how she really feels about him.
The novel was a quick read and had a satisfying ending, but left me wanting more out of the characters and the plot. Meaney is good at helping us understand both sides of Kelly and Hunter’s relationship, uniquely alternating the story between their perspectives. Yet, the mystery of who those characters are individually has been only scratched at the surface. The plot became predictable very early on, and in the same way that every Shakespearean comedy ends with a wedding, this YA book ends typically with the long-awaited prom. The book seemed a bit unfinished, like a painting missing a few essential brushstrokes. If the plot had deviated from that of an average YA novel and the characters were fleshed out more, it could have been a masterpiece.
However, the flaws I observed in the book didn’t overshadow its brighter points. Meaney is deft at immersing readers of all ages in the world of teenage relationships. She shows how Kelly and Hunter’s lives parallel each other in both emotion and experience, which helps to elucidate why their connection is so strong and central to the story. Moreover, Kelly and Hunter’s friends are a large cast of characters whose storylines echo those of our main characters, making them equally essential to the plot.
Overall, The Boy Recession is the type of book that you’d read while waiting for your stop on the subway or lounging at the beach. If you’ve been browsing for something light and easily relatable, this is for you. While it has its flaws, it is definitely worth a read.
- Shannon D., 16