Friday, September 26, 2008
Review: 10 Things to do Before I Die
10 Things to do Before I Die by Daniel Ehrenhaft
Reasons for reading: I've been wanting to read one of Ehrenhaft's books; New York setting for Triple 8 Challenge; Young Adult Challenge
Book description (from Booklist): "It's the first day of spring break, and bright, nerdy 16-year-old Ted Burger is hanging out with his best friends [Mark and his girlfriend Nikki] at a New York City diner. Ted's friends are constructing a "to do" list for him, the first item of which is "lose virginity." Then Ted discovers a disgruntled employee has poisoned the fries he has just eaten, and he'll be dead in 24 hours. Suddenly the "to do" list takes on new meaning."
First line: "My name is Ted Burger."
My thoughts: Daniel Ehrenhaft is funny! I'd heard he was, which is why I wanted to read the book. So that was good. He has some very funny turns of phrase and a few hilarious scenes. The origin of Ted's favourite band, Shakes the Clown, is particularly stellar. The ad they placed seeking a drummer included the following requirement: "must be an older chick or have punched a cop in the groin."
It's a quick read and an interesting idea. It gets a bit rushed, with Ted's attempts to complete the list squeezed into about 8 hours. The things he discovers while trying to do the 10 things are fairly cliched - his old middle-school bully is now a saint, the members of Shakes the Clown are asshats, and, of course, he's in love with his best friend's girl.
The end of the book felt a bit like an after school special - "You know, I learned something today..." While I suppose it could happen with a near-death experience, Ted very quickly realizes a great deal about himself, his parents, Mark, Nikki, and his nice but not-Nikki girlfriend Rachel.
But I would definitely recommend this to teens. I don't often read books about boys, so I was glad to read it for that reason, too. It reminded me a little bit of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Not the story, but some elements - rushing around New York at night, the quirky humour, Ted being a music geek, and the cool girl friend who becomes more.
I'd be up for reading more Ehrenhaft in the future. I think a longer book would serve him better. His Drawing a Blank sounds interesting.