My Most Excellent Year, by Steve Kluger (ages 12 & up)
Anthony (TC) Keller, Alejandra (Ale) Perez and Augie Hwong all recount their most excellent year through diaries, instant messages, and emails. It is the year that best friends and “brothers” TC and Augie experience their first loves (TC with Ale and Augie with a boy named Andy), Ale finds her nitch in life as a performer instead of a diplomatic ambassador as her parents hope, and they all befriend a young, deaf orphan named Hucky.
The best part of My Most Excellent year is the character of Augie Hwong. Augie is a confident and secure young gay man who easily accepts himself and is accepted and embraced by both his friends and parents. He experiences just as much excitement and anxiety with his first love as the other characters, sharing with them his ups and downs along the way.
Ale and TC are also both good, strong characters. Ale is intelligent and strong willed. She is a very positive girl character. TC’s character has depth beyond just “wanting to get the girl.” He takes up various causes, including one of Ale’s, and makes a concerted effort to break through to an initially untrusting Hucky.
Due to the various means used to tell the story and the similarity in some character’s names, getting used to the flow takes a little bit of effort. Once you do, though, you are rewarded with multi-dimensional characters and a good plot.
My Most Excellent Year, by Steve Kluger; Dial Books, 2008; 12 & up; $8.99