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Vote for Larry
ISBN 0805072012 / 9780805072013 / 0-8050-7201-2
Publisher Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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After faking his own death in the last book (a "pseudocide") and then taking on a second phony identity, the allegedly real 17-year-old protagonist of the Gospel According to Larry shows up on author Janet Tashjian's doorstep again, with another manuscript detailing his latest exploits. Last time around, Josh changed the world by fighting global consumerism as Internet alter ego Larry; this time, he's going for the big enchilada as just plain ol' Josh--in a run for the presidency and an attempt to change U.S. politics forever. (And who's his running mate? Unrequited love Beth, of course.)
After going underground as a student at C.U.-Boulder, Josh (briefly "Mark") finds his anti-consumer ideals slipping--he tries to maintain his vow of austerity ("fewer than 75 possessions, in constant rotation"), but the slippery slope of a new girlfriend and an even newer credit card finds Josh in a Polo sweatshirt and Nautica pajamas before he can say "Walden Pond." Fortunately, Beth sweeps back into his life again with a big plan--and, more importantly, the proper jealousy-fueled inspiration, thanks to her Harvard boyfriend--to bring Josh back from the "dead" and into politics.
Fans of Tashjian's last award-winning outing will love catching up with their favorite activist superhero, as an almost unbelievable presidential campaign unfolds, amidst copious pop-culture references (U2's Bono is back, and Josh and Beth appear on the Simpsons), real-life stats about youth and the distribution of wealth in America, and--instead of Thoreau, this time around--quotes from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Hightower, and Paul Wellstone. Maybe it's just her "subject"/character's irresistible alacrity and idealism, but somehow Tashjian channels enough youthful hope and energy to inspire any proto-activist, adult or teen alike. (Ages 14 and up) --Paul Hughes [via]