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I think we all remember that one couple from high school — the on-again, off-again, then on-again, constantly breaking up and making up duo, whose drama is repeated so often, you sort of just learn to ignore it? The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig by Don Zolidis is basically about that couple, told hilariously through nonsequential chapters highlighting their highs and lows over one senior year.
The worst thing that’s ever happened to Craig is also the best: Amy. Amy and Craig never should’ve gotten together. Craig is an awkward, Dungeons & Dragons-playing geek, and Amy is the beautiful, fiercely intelligent student-body president of their high school.
Yet somehow they did. Until Amy dumped him. Then got back together with him. Then dumped him again. Then got back together with him again. Over and over and over.
Unfolding during their senior year, Amy and Craig’s exhilarating, tumultuous relationship is a kaleidoscope of joy, pain, and laughter as an uncertain future — and adult responsibility — loom on the horizon.
Craig fights for his dream of escaping Janesville and finding his place at a quirky college, while Amy’s quest to uncover her true self sometimes involves being Craig’s girlfriend — and sometimes doesn’t.
Seven heartbreaks. Seven joys. Told nonsequentially, acclaimed playwright Don Zolidis’s debut novel is a brutally funny, bittersweet taste of the utterly unique and utterly universal experience of first love.
The best part about this book? It made me laugh, a lot. Zolidis’s writing is witty and entertaining, and his sense of humor shines throughout the dialogue and little details that make up his story. (Such as Amy’s knack for giving the most depressing, uninspiring speeches ever. They’re truly terrible, and truly hilarious to behold.)
I loved the setting and time period of this book, and Zolidis captured both so well. I’ve never been to Wisconsin, but his writing made me feel like I was there. And as someone who was a teenager in the ’90s, I loved seeing those years brought back — in the music, the fashion, the trends, and the lack of cell phones and Internet connectivity.
At times, Craig’s desperation for Amy became a little irritating — but his earnest desire to be with her, and be a great boyfriend to her were charming. At times, I felt like Amy was a little underdeveloped — and though this is largely a result of seeing her through Craig’s eyes (and the character’s struggles to find herself), I still felt like she deserved more as a character. I almost wish the story had been told from both of their perspectives, so we could have seen her more fleshed out more fully.
Despite my critiques, I was still entertained and found plenty to laugh over and reminisce about. Zolidis definitely has a knack for capturing the nostalgia of the past, and the aches of growing up and bumbling through heartache and first love.
His 102 published plays have received more than 12,000 productions and have appeared in every state and 64 countries.
His first novel, The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, will be published by Disney-Hyperion in October 2018.
He currently splits time between Texas and New York and aspires to owning a dog.
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