“I’ve got some questions for you. Was this story written about me?”
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty. It brought a bloom to her pale cheeks and made sharp shelves of her cheekbones.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote I can’t on my palm.
Then, in tiny letters below it, I finished the thought: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?
Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.
From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.
I’m not going to argue that Tommy Wallach’s Thanks for the Trouble isn’t clever. It’s a very clever premise, full of witty dialogue and interesting characters. But for some reason, I just couldn’t connect to this book. I wanted to like it, which is probably why I kept reading it, but in the end I just didn’t really see the point.
Parker Santé doesn’t speak. Not like, he doesn’t say very much or doesn’t like to talk… he literally cannot speak. He hasn’t said a single word since his father died five years ago; in fact, he doesn’t even make a sound when he laughs. He seems to spend a lot of his time skipping school and stealing from rich people in hotels. Oh, and he’s writing a college application essay, which is, in essence, this book itself.
So, basically, we, the readers, are supposed to be the college application board, reading his essay and deciding whether or not to accept him at our university.
It’s intriguing, no?
Despite all of that, I didn’t find Parker to be a very relatable narrator. He’s obsessed with his manic pixie dream girl, the mysterious (potentially crazy) Zelda, who drags him along on a quest to spend as much money as possible doing dumb things over the course of a few days. Her only request is that, when they’re done, he’ll actually buck up and apply to college (so, yeah, guess who gets her wish?).
I found Zelda to be a wild card character – there were moments I liked her and moments I hated her, but mostly I just stood somewhere in the middle, rolling my eyes at her. She was too much, too hyperreal, too unreal even to feel fully-developed. On the flip side, Parker was almost too predictable to be worthwhile. He manages to be a crass, horny, teenage boy in all the worst ways, without ever even saying a word. It’s too much.
So, while I think Wallach definitely has talent, and has written a book that many will enjoy and find unique, this book was too crass and off-the-wall for me.
Rating: 3.2/5 stars
Are you planning to read Thanks for the Trouble? Have you already? Did you love it or hate it?