“When you start this program, your whole life will change.”
When Fatty Matty Sullivan finds a self-help book by former football great Tad Manly at a yard sale, he secretly starts following the old pro’s advice to turn himself into the kind of guy super hot Cassie Bale will love.
But between taking care of his grandfather, trying to pass remedial Algebra, and getting caught up in his friend Jester’s half-baked weed-dealing schemes, Matt’s summer isn’t quite the game-changer he’d planned. And when on top of it all his dad moves back in with his own plans to get rich quick, Matt suddenly has much bigger things to worry about. It turns out that there might be more to being manly than he thought.With the humor and insight of YA favorites Judy Blume and Louis Sachar Maureen O’Leary Wanket’s debut is a sharp, comic novel about trying to do the right thing…even when you’re not sure what that is.
Maureen O’Leary Wanket is a writer and teacher living in Sacramento, California with her husband and two daughters. How To Be Manly is inspired by the humor and courage of the students she’s met in her classrooms over the past twenty years.
Maureen’s short stories have appeared in Esopus, Xenith,Fiction at Work, Blood and Thunder, Musings on the Art of Medicine and Prick of the Spindle. How To Be Manly is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @maureenow.
Giveaway of one paperback Advanced Reading Copy of How to Be Manly (US)
and 3 eARCs of How to Be Manly (INT)
Giveaway courtesy of Giant Squid Books.
The cover of How to Be Manly shows snippets of Matt Sullivan’s story: donuts, his favorite food; grass stains from long days on the football field; a stack of cash. In a series of cover-reveal posts, author Maureen O’Leary Wanket talks about the importance of each of these things to Matt’s story.
Maureen O’Leary Wanket on football in How to Be Manly:
In How to Be Manly, fifteen-year-old Matty loves his grandma’s cakes and playing video games. In an effort to get a certain girl to like him, he makes an impulsive decision to join his high school football team.
Matty is lucky enough to have a great coach who cares and wants to see him succeed. Writing the character of Coach Grimes was a labor of love, inspired by the wonderful coaches I’ve known in my work as a high school teacher. I’ve seen firsthand the difference a good coach can make in someone’s life. I didn’t care about football at all until I started teaching, but there is something archetypal about young men going into the field to win honor for their school. There are very few places in our culture where young men and women can test their heroic mettle.
Leave it to a writer to impose a literary template such as the hero’s journey on something as cut and dried as a football field, but that’s how I see it.
How to Be Manly is a book for anyone who has ever thought that a change for the better could be possible, even if it means being uncomfortable and scared. It’s about a young man who decides that he is going to be the hero of his own story.
Blades of grass tickled my ear. So this is where I would die. The sun burned my eyes right out of their sockets.
“You okay, Matt?” Coach Grimes bent over me. His breath was minty. He was chewing gum. It was blue. How dumb that my last thought on earth before I died would be noticing that my Coach’s gum was blue. On the last run at the sled I knocked my stomach into my lungs. Black spots danced around Coach’s head. I wondered if he could see them too.
He held up a finger. I watched it go back and forth. Then he pulled me up by my helmet face guard. My feet stayed under me.
“You’re okay,” he said. He smacked me on the butt. There was a lot of butt-smacking so far in football.
“I’m dying,” I croaked.
“Nah,” Coach said. “Just had the wind knocked out of you. Never had the wind knocked out of you before?”
Coach put his arm around me. “You’re doing fine, Matt. Keep working. Keep working.”
Then he pushed me back into line for drills.
This was where I lived now. Nothing else was real. I ran at the sled. There were purple jerseys and the sun in my eyes and green grass. A sea of green. Always green. The field never ended.
The sled. My enemy. It looked padded and cushy but that was a trick. I ran at full speed. I never ran that fast in my life.