Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REVIEW: Everything Happens Today, by Jesse Browner

Everything Happens Today, by Jesse Browner. Published 2011 by Europa Editions. Fiction.

When I started reading Everything Happens Today I wasn't sure I was going to like it. It's the story of Wes, an affluent highschooler in New York City, and his various angst and problems. The story takes place over the course of one Saturday, the day after Wes has lost his virginity to the school flirt, a girl named Lucy. Wes has a number of problems. Although he has slept with Lucy, he's in love with a standoff-ish redhead named Delia. His mother is chronically, terminally ill, and it's the nurse's day off. His father is alienated from the family. And Wes feels responsible for the well-being of his beloved little sister Nora. On top of that, he has a paper to write, dinner to cook, and a dog to walk.

The book sort of comes across as a more-privileged version of that other teen-boy angst book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Browner's book lacks the other book's profanity but there's still plenty of sex and drugs, not mention angst. As Browner charts Wes's interior life in vivid detail, the narrative also covers exactly what happened the night before, which is not what we're lead to expect at first, and the history of his relationship with Delia. A somewhat typically self-absorbed teenager, Wes's perceptions are not entirely accurate, as we come to see as we get to know the characters. Wes becomes more sympathetic as his understanding of these people sharpens. By the end, Browner brings into the story a sort of gentle wisdom, chiding Wes but still very affectionate towards him.

I have a feeling I am not the ideal reader for this book. I think it would appeal more to readers closer in age to the protagonist for one, and to fans of young adult literature more in general. Up to the minute in terms of social and technological references and brimming with the energy and urgency of youth, Everything Happens Today has the potential to be a coming of age cult classic but I have to admit teen-boy-angst is not my own favorite subject. So it's another book where I'm going to leave it up to you. I think it does what it does well and I think fans of these kinds of books will enjoy it.

This counts towards the Europa Challenge.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Europa Editions.