A Boy Worth Knowing, by Jennifer Cosgrove
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: March 20, 2017
Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.
Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.
Between dead grandmothers and living aunts, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.
Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.
Coming of Age
Content Warnings for:
If gentle, unassuming coming-of-age stories are your thing, there’s a lot to like about A Boy Worth Knowing.
Nate is a very sympathetic character, what with being a high school reject, getting disowned by his own mother and the whole, you know, seeing dead people thing. While neither his sexuality nor his ability to see spirits is something he’s chosen to make public, word has gotten around that Nate is …different. And in high school, that’s all that is needed to solidify your reputation as a ‘freak’. Nate has almost come to terms with all of those things by the time we meet him, and trying to make the best of a bad situation has become his modus operandi. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t lonely.
Until James comes along.
I looked up just as the school secretary walked in with someone I’d never seen before. He had his head down, but I could tell he wore glasses, even though his blond hair was hanging over them, hiding his eyes. His hair did that thing that not enough product in the world could make mine do. He looked up and scanned the classroom.
Oh. Oh no.
He was hot – as in, really good-looking.
James is the new kid in town, and for Nate it’s like he’s been given a blank slate. James isn’t aware of Nate’s reputation, and the two develop an instant friendly rapport. Even when advised by the popular girl at school that Nate isn’t worth hanging out with, James decides for himself that Nate is definitely someone worth knowing.
There’s a fair bit of teenage angst here, most of it revolving around Nate’s increasingly complicated feelings for James. But it’s the type of angst that feels familiar, especially for anyone who has had a high school crush on someone, only to watch them hook up with someone else.
“Hey –“ James grinned as I tossed my bag down. “Did I miss anything this weekend?”
Margo piped up, her voice grating. “You didn’t miss anything, I already told you, remember?” Her hand was on his arm, and I made myself sit down. She gave me an oddly defiant look and laced her fingers with his. A hard knot was forming in my chest, and I looked away.
In addition to having to deal with his feelings for James, Nate also has to figure out if telling James about his ability to see and speak with dead people is worth of losing the one friend he has and one of the few people he actually cares about. While keeping his ability under wraps may seem like a wise decision, there’s one small problem: James is being followed by the recently deceased spirit of his older brother and that older brother needs Nate’s assistance to help James overcome his grief and move on to a healthier place.
“I want you to help James move on.”
“And how am I supposed to do that?” Where is he going with this? “What-“
“You like him.” I blinked at him. How could he possibly- “I mean, you really like him.” Oh god. Was I that transparent? My damn face flushed again.
This is a pretty quiet little book, with some really nice moments. The progression of Nate and James’ relationship is a slow burn and even when they do get together, it’s done with care, concern and – most importantly – consent. James is always checking in with Nate to make sure he’s okay with what they’re doing, something that I found really refreshing.
The only parts I didn’t really like were the mean girls, Penny and Margo. Although it’s clear that Nate is ostracized by most of the student body, only Penny and Margo are its representatives. The fact that they are both attractive, popular girls kind of reinforces an 80’s era teen movie stereotype of the pretty bitchy girl who gets her comeuppance. They just felt really one-dimensional to me.
My other issue was with Nate’s mother, who basically kicks Nate out of her life simply because he can see and hear dead people. I just felt that was a terribly weak reason to all but abandon your child and had absolutely no respect for her decision to try and seek forgiveness from Nate at the end.
Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA, ghosts and happy endings.
Three Quick Question for Jennifer Cosgrove author of A Boy Worth Knowing
When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?
My first story was Sherlock (BBC) fanfiction. I didn’t start writing until 2014 and something in the show compelled me to give it a go. It helped that my best friend, after listening to much rambling about a story idea that was taking over my brain, encouraged me to write it. An experiment resulted in 50k words of fanfiction that didn’t suck. And then I wrote another one. And another one.
Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?
I grab time when I can. I’m a night owl and stay up after my kids go to bed to write. I also keep notebooks everywhere. I write in the car rider line and I write when I take my daughter to meet her tutor. My New Year’s resolution was to write every day and I’ve mostly kept to it. Some days are better than others!
Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?
I am right in the middle of a plotter and a pantser. Kind of a plantser. I outline until I just can’t stand it and then I dive right in. Then I stop and outline some more. I find that I write faster if I know where I’m going with the story but promise myself that outlines can change if the story calls for it.
Sometimes I can get inspired by a single line of music or it can help drive an emotional scene in a story. I also tend to ‘cast’ my characters by using actors to have something to keep in mind while describing characteristics.
Jennifer has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story.
When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.
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One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.