A novel about a mysterious Viking mascot, school politics, and choosing between being a nerd or staying “cool.”
Lawrence Barry likes origami and idolizes Odysseus. But being a nerd doesn’t seem to be helping him climb the social ladder and so he decided to befriend some cool kids. But trouble finds him. A second chance opened upright when he was in danger of being sent to a military school. Barry needs to mentor the new weird kid in school. He thinks that he could help the kid be cool, when in fact it’s the other way around.
“The Boomerang Effect” is a realistic story of high school that focuses solely on the entertainment of the young adult audience. The theme is the same as any YA novel, as author Gordon Jack focuses on one Lawrence Barry, a high schooler with drug addiction and a popularity problem, because he’s, in the dictionary of cool kids, kind of weird.
Oddly, Barry thinks of Odysseus as a hero. Greek mythology heroes are not my definition of heroes. Barry is a junior who is friendly enough to escape the frequent bullies but is in danger of being expelled because of various misdemeanors, and yeah, did I mention that he has an addiction problem? Thanks to his powerful lawyer of a father, he managed to stay at Meridian High School. But barely. As a sort of punishment, he needs to be a mentor to the weird kid from Sweden or Norway, I’m not sure which, honestly who cares? What follows is a unique journey of a high school kid who’s in limbo between being cool and being “weird” and his journey towards choosing which term is much better.
I wouldn’t trust a guy who looks up at Odysseus as a hero and revels in the fact that the Greek hero “battles one-eyed giants and [has] sex with hot witch goddesses.” Seriously? But of all the YA characters, I could relate to Barry more. In an effort to be “cool,” the guy was fooled by “friends” who turned to be not real friends (surprise, surprise).
The stories around the students are well developed resulting in a unified plot. What I like about this novel is how Barry likens his situation to his idol Greek hero, with the usage of several passages from “The Odyssey” to describe his situation in school. I also like his hallucinations of talking squirrels and whatever. “But he was gone, eaten by the wiser owl, who had better things to do than talk to a bored and lonely teenager.” In short, the novel was fun and Barry’s dialogues will make you laugh with an element of surprise in the end. The mystery behind the Viking mascot is at first seemed to be straightforward but it turned out to be more intriguing than that.
The one thing that’s apparent in this novel is that the author is clearly racist. Not full-on racist, just the mild “I’m-not-aware-that-I-am-racist” kind of guy. The stereotypes against Asians and Latinos are apparent, as well as, his mild disgust with anything gay. Gordon Jack must be a Republican.
Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars). Forget the major flaws. “The Boomerang Effect” proves that it’s not just your typical YA novel with its discussion about the social ladder and the existing standards that adults hold which make life for teenagers suck. Are you reading this, adults? This novel is an enjoyable read with some depth to it. It’s about searching for real friends and finding yourself in the process.