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Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.
Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.
Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.
But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?
I’ve almost forgotten what it felt like to love a book so much that you want to yell it from the mountaintops, talk about it ALL the time, and fumble through a review trying to put into words WHY it meant so much to you. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in this position. But here I am…and I’m unsure what to say.
I’ve read some of TJ Klune’s books, not all. But what I do notice when I read reviews of his books, people often seem to say, “If you like TJ Klune’s writing, you’ll like this book”. I kinda laugh since, you know, TJ wrote each of those books…but I actually do understand what this means. TJ has a distinct voice and style. And it works for some and not for others, I guess.
So, I’ll start by saying, if you like TJ Klune, you’ll like this book. But I’ll also say, if you haven’t liked TJ Klune in the past, you’ll like this book. And will add, if you’ve never read TJ Klune, you’ll like the book. Because this book has his voice, has his style, but has it in a way that works so brilliantly that the book becomes more than just voice or style. It has signature zaniness in what seems like a very simple story…but underlying is this treasure of heart and depth, surprisingly layered and thoughtful, and wickedly smart in its wit.
How To Be A Normal Person is quirky and over-the-top, laugh-out-loud-over-and-over-again funny, and the pace is insane…zingers and badabingbadabooms thrown at you all over the place. But, it feels like a joy ride that leaves you exhilarated rather than a roller coaster that makes you sick by the end.
Gus is abnormal and weird and strange. After losing his father, he goes about living a simple and regimented life, running a video rental store. His best friends are a coffee shop owner w/ drag-queen hair, and a 3-woman gang/possibly sisters?/possibly lovers? of no-nonsense, of-a-certain-age ladies. And his heart is taken by an asexual stoner hipster named Casey. That, in a nutshell, is the insanity of this book.
But here’s where the SPECIAL comes in: in an attempt to be good for Casey, to be HAPPY, Gus decides to try and be NORMAL. And he finds himself on the internet, researching how to go about this…as we all do. The “character” of the internet is hysterical and some of the best humor writing I’ve read in a long time.
Here’s also where the SPECIAL comes in: memories of Gus’s father, Pastor Tommy…who loved his son so completely and with such care…I’m tearing up just thinking back on those parts. What an endearing and committed bond they shared. (*pass the tissues*!)
Here’s another part where the SPECIAL comes in: unlike so many of the books I read today, in this book EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER speaks the truth. They all tell it like it is. They don’t bullshit or gloss it over. They all speak truth. And I f’*cking loved it…I didn’t expect that to be so refreshing!
Here’s just one more part where the SPECIAL comes in: all this talk about an asexual character, and the relationship with an asexual character. But it had so little to do with their relationship at all! It may have been an adjective for Casey, but it didn’t define Casey. And it didn’t define Casey and Gus. I loved that! It was a perfect display of acceptance that didn’t feel political or preachy or teachy…but it just felt…normal. And if anything, it felt like a celebration of how normal it can be!
Gus is one of my favorite characters of all time. He suffers from verbal diarrhea. He is cranky. He is hurt, but healing. He is uncertain. He is determined. He is so special, I can’t stand how much sometimes. He’s just Gus. And I love him.
There’s so much that’s amazing about this book, but Gus…yeah, he made it for me.
Bravo, TJ Klune. I loved this book! *hugs Kindle tightly*