Reviews for Best of Youth

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
Dahlie spins a strange tale of a sensitive and bright but naive young man who is drifting in life. After his parents' untimely death, Henry Lang inherits $15 million. Financially set, Henry struggles with social and romantic interactions. He is a writer, trying to live an ideal young person's life in New York City, but things aren't quite falling into place for him. Henry's na├»vetÚ gets him into a few unfortunate but amusing scenes, one with some extremely costly goats and another involving transportation of firearms. These lighter events are counterbalanced by the quiet depression that permeates the first half of the novel. The pace of the story picks up substantially in the second half, as Henry contracts to ghostwrite a young-adult novel for an unstable, drug-addicted actor. This peculiar partnership sets in motion a series of calamitous events that ultimately push Henry into action. Along the way, Dahlie offers a biting take on the motivations of some authors entering the young-adult field. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
Every young writer can probably tell stories about the chaos and romance of their first year as a working scribe. But Henry Lang, the hero of this novel by Dahlie (A Gentleman's Guide To Graceful Living, 2008), has juicier tales than most. Henry's often humiliating, but eventually triumphant, year includes a failed romance with a fourth cousin, a hellish gig ghostwriting for a famous actor and a disastrous run-in with a flock of priceless goats. This is, at heart, a timeless story about a nerd trying to fit in with the cool kids. Henry is born a multimillionaire thanks to family holdings, but that doesn't help his social status in bohemian, present-day New York. He falls in with the editors of a dodgy literary magazine, who reject his stories after his check clears. His cousin Abby, an up-and-coming rock performer, shoots down his polite romantic advances. And he stumbles into a situation that lands him with a short jail sentence. Harry's cluelessness is at first a bit frustrating, especially after the goat episode, but he grows up fast when actor Jonathan Kipling hires him to ghostwrite an inspirational novel. This plays like the movie My Favorite Year but far less romanticized. Will Henry stay muzzled by the nondisclosure agreement he's signed as a ghostwriter, or will he follow his conscience and put everything at risk? Stay tuned. An engaging novel. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 November #1

This short book by Pen/Hemingway award winner Dahlie looks like a quick read but ends up being a labor--and not of love. The main character, Henry Lang, is so unrealistically clueless, and his mistakes are so predictable, that readers will find themselves cringing. Henry is a Harvard grad and short story writer whose parents unexpectedly die, leaving him $15 million. He decides, naturally, to move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to soak up the youthful literary culture. What seems meant to be a charming fish-out-of-water story falls flat on its face. The prose is dry, and the events are too outlandish, from the accidental murder of a rare breed of goats to a chance movie deal with a disgruntled celebrity. VERDICT New York's hipster youth scene is ripe for satire, but unfortunately this novel fails to find the mark. Not recommended.--Kate Gray, Pratt Inst., SILS, New York

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #4

A hapless 20-something tries to make it as a writer while surfing waves of Brooklyn pretension in Dahlie's second novel (after A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living). Despite a Harvard degree and a fortune inherited after his parents are killed in a car accident that he uses to fund the literary magazine Suckerhead, Henry feels blocked in his writing--and unlucky in love, when he learns that his girlfriend mocks him behind his back. His streak of disappointment continues through his dogged attempts to do the right thing, which usually end in disaster, from accidentally killing a herd of designer goats to being arrested on weapons charges after cleaning out his family home. A ghostwriting job for D-list actor Jonathan Kipling offers potential until Jonathan turns out to be a persnickety editor who seduces Henry's unrequited crush and picks apart Henry's work before taking all the credit for the resulting bestseller. Dahlie's send-up of the quest for literary fame is hampered by its pursuer, whose ability to buy his way out of trouble obviates any feelings about the stress or danger he experiences. With the exception of a critical fistfight, Henry sails through turmoil basically unharmed, a weak substitute for a 21st-century Candide, one whose absurd struggles don't produce the intended humor. Agent: Douglas Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)

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