Rock ‘n’ roll. Teenage delinquents. And the overarching question: who IS Ritchie Sudden? That’s the premise behind Sean Beaudoin’s wildly hilarious and brilliantly plotted new novel Wise Young Fool:
Teen rocker Ritchie Sudden is pretty sure his life has just jumped the shark. Except he hates being called a teen, his band doesn’t play rock, and “jumping the shark” is yet another dumb cliché. Part of Ritchie wants to drop everything and walk away. Especially the part that’s serving ninety days in a juvenile detention center.
Telling the story of the year leading up to his arrest, Ritchie grabs readers by the throat before (politely) inviting them along for the (max-speed) ride. A battle of the bands looms. Dad split about five minutes before Mom’s girlfriend moved in. There’s the matter of trying to score with the dangerously hot Ravenna Woods while avoiding the dangerously huge Spence Proffer–not to mention just trying to forget what his sister, Beth, said the week before she died.
This latest offering from acclaimed author Sean Beaudoin is alternately raw, razor-sharp, and genuinely hilarious.
Beaudoin writes with his usual signature style, putting his stamp on every page of this story that — in a tongue-in-cheek intro — is credited by the editor to the mysterious teenager Ritchie Sudden. (WE know Beaudoin is the author – but hey, let’s go with the theory that a teen really wrote it. That makes the journey a heck of a lot more interesting to read.)
Through Ritchie’s narrative, and Beaudoin’s quick-wit writing, the reader experiences a teen who is big on dreams and even bigger on inner turmoil. If you’ll excuse my language, Ritchie has some shit going on in his life and he hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with it. (Not that we expect him to; he’s a teenager. Duh.)
As the story of Ritchie’s tumultuous journey to juvie unfolds, Beaudoin shows us a teen in pain — struggling to overcome, move on, and have just a few things go his way. It’s a raw, honest journey — but mixed in with Beaudoin’s rock ‘n’ roll sensibility and sharp-tongued humor, Wise Young Fool is an utter delight to read. Every single page. Just delightful.
I can easily see Wise Young Fool finding a home on the bookshelf next to Catcher in the Rye (though Ritchie would probably hate being compared to Holden Caulfield, but DEAL with it, Ritchie. Deal with it) and in the hands of teenager readers who want a book that just screams “THIS IS MY LIFE AND IT DOES NOT SOUND LIKE A CONDESCENDING ADULT WROTE IT.” Huzzah.
Wise Young Fool is in stores now.