Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

It's fun, it's fast, it's like a wild teenage movie pressed between the pages of a book...but is Joe Schreiber's Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick Printz-worthy?

Only if you think that American Pie was Oscar-worthy.

But there's a reason I'm putting the book up for discussion here. Read on.

The story is narrated by Perry Stormaire, a high school senior being bullied into college and career by his upwardly-mobile lawyer dad.
Not a "prom-type guy," Perry plans to spend the evening of the dance playing a gig in Manhattan with his garage band -- until the foreign exchange student living with Perry's family makes it known that she wants to attend prom with Perry as her date. Gobija Zaksauskas is from Lithuania, suffers from epilepsy, and dresses for the big night in a "traditional Lithuanian ceremonial costume" which includes a brown wool skirt decorated with stripes and clovers, a large animal-pelt handbag, and a kerchief tied under her chin. After a brief, disastrous stop at the prom, Gobi insists that Perry take her into NYC, where she directs him to a popular night club and emerges from the restroom "in a little black dress and wraparound sunglasses...hips snapping back and forth like a metronome beneath the stretchy fabric." It's about this time that Gobi reveals she's an international asssassin, who expects Perry to chauffeur her around the city while she ices five foes.

From then on, the narrative kicks into nonstop action -- tires squealing, machine guns firing, bodies bouncing off car hoods, pitbulls snarling, and helicopters descending from the sky -- accompanied by the type of funny, yet totally unbelievable, dialogue we've heard in a million buddy movies ("You shot him. You totally just shot that guy back there. I think I'm gonna throw up.") though one particular line about women is so crude it will probably have to be cut from the script in order to get a PG13 when the inevitable film of Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is made.

Slight and slick, the novel's one nod toward literary luster has each chapter cleverly structured to answer an essay question from a college admissions form ("Tell us about one of the best conversations you've ever had (Stanford.)" Otherwise this book reads like a treatment or pitch for a movie.

PRINTZ-WORTHY: Not by a long shot fired from one of Gobi's guns!

So why are we featuring this Crazy European Chick in a Mock Printz blog? Because a friend who knows a lot about YA fiction insists this book has Printz potential. And since this same friend was the only person I know who predicted Going Bovine would win the Printz a couple yeara ago, I've got to listen to her.

Yeah, I've learned to listen to her....no matter how much I disagree with her.

What do YOU think?

1 comment:

  1. I read this last week and you're right--it reads like an obligatory step in a movie-making project. The chapter headers were marvelous, but the rest flew by so fast it gave me whiplash. Likable, yes; Printz-worthy, no.