This installment of our 2011 Debut Author Challenge features our first MG title--as well as the first MG book I've read in a very, very, long time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Crystal Allen's How Lamar's bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy. Please pause on the cuteness of that title.
Here's what Goodreads has to say:
Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever at Striker's Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar's a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And Lamar's brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up all of Dad's attention, leaving no room in the house for Lamar's problems.
So Lamar starts hustling at the local alley with bad boy Billy Jenks. When one of their schemes goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother's shot at college and wreaking havoc on every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?
From debut author Crystal Allen comes an unforgettable, laugh-out-loud story of one boy's struggle to win his family's admiration and get the girl of his dreams, all while playing the sport he loves.
In all honesty, I smiled pretty much the whole time while I read this. So that's why it's easy to come up with:
The Top Four Things You Need to Know about Lamar:
1. It Has Diversity. This is the first novel I've read in forever that featured an African-American narrator. Granted, this is partially my fault, but it was still refreshing to read a different perspective on the whole "coming of age" thing. Plus, Lamar wasn't your stereotypical black teenager. He went to church every Sunday, he did really well in school, and his dad always made sure he looked presentable and not "ghetto." Did I mention this was refreshing?
2. The Voice Was Sooo Authentic. I'll admit it--I fell in love with Lamar. He was that perfect balance between cocky and insecure. Crystal Allen also made sure that the teens sounded like, well, teens. The jargon she used in this novel was what I hear in the halls of my school everyday--but I can still see kids reading this years from now and still understanding the slang.
3. Hilarity Ensued. I haven't laughed this much from a book in a LONG time. I really wasn't expecting to be this amused since I thought the humor might be "beneath" me. But just reading about Lamar's attempt at getting a girlfriend and his proclamation of being the "King of Striker's" had me guffawing pretty much throughout the book.
4. But it Also Had Heart. Sure, it had his laugh out loud moments, but Ms. Allen also made sure to tug at the readers' heart strings. Lamar deals with the death of one of his parents, and just witnessing how his family tries to keep it together had me reaching for the tissue box.
People always want to know how to get reluctant boy readers to pick up a book. My response: let them read Lamar.
If you like...
Books: Holes by Louis Sachar, The Cottonmouth Club by Lance Marcum, Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye...then you'll like Lamar
Movies: Baby Boy, Stand By Me, The Wood...then you'll like Lamar
But wait--there's more! I hearted this book SO MUCH, that we now want to give YOU a copy. Just leave a comment below with your email address by Wednesday, May 18th at midnight, EST. That's it--just leave a comment and email address. We'll announce winners Thursday, May 19th. Good luck! :)