Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Format read: ARC via publisher
Secrets, broken relationships and a return to bad habits, makes this a nice though occasionally flawed follow-up to Steinkellner's debut novel.
On the Eastside of town, Jake's former best friend, Danny Uribe, has stepped up in the ranks of the local gang, the Raiders. Now that Danny is calling the shots, he has to start making some tough decisions. Life as a Raider may not be all that Danny thought it would be.
Meanwhile, Hannah Schwartz is starting a new school year at Costa Blanca Preparatory Academy. No longer perched at the top of the social ladder, Hannah must fight for her position on the popularity pole. But frenemies have set their sights on Hannah, and they won't make it easy for her to get ahead.
And as for Dorothy Wu, no one is as excited as she is about starting the eighth grade. With her new drama class friends and her boyfriend, Prince Jacobim, by her side, what else could a Wu ask for? But Dorothy has never navigated rocky relationship waters before. Can she help save Jake from the moody blues? Or will Dorothy end up dumped in the trash can, too?
In this remarkable follow-up to Trash Can Days, Teddy Steinkellner delivers a contemporary story that is as hysterically funny as it is heartbreaking. In the end, there will be epic dance-offs, stunning sleepover secrets, life-changing spin-the-bottle sessions, and-oh yes-lots and lots of cats.
In his sophomore novel, Teddy Steinkellner brings us back to the world of San Paulo Junior High, and back into Jake, Danny, Hannah and Dorothy's lives. After the events of the previous year, all four characters have gone through a number of significant changes, Jake especially.
Jake is unprepared to face his post-stabbing spike in popularity, and begins to make a number of dramatic changes in his life, that will impact him and all of those around him, for better and for worse.
Steinkellner follows up the saga of Jake, Danny, Hannah and Dorothy in this second chapter to their story, with the same degree of enthusiasm and intricate plotting that made the first book so successful. Even though the characters are all interlinked once more, they're also living out ramifications of the choices made in the first novel, often times in unexpected ways.
While all of the storylines had nice subplots and high points, I was particularly struck with Danny's development. He's still suffering from many of the choices he made in the first book, and Steinkellner does a good job in showing how Danny begins to learn from his mistakes in a manner that manages to refrain from being preachy and/or condescending. It's realistic storytelling at its best, and I think all readers will appreciate it.
Of special note: Educators and parents should be aware that there is a fairly large jump in maturity between this book and the first book. More on this in Things that didn't work/Things to consider.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
E.g. One character is devastated when another character ends their relationship, and basically starts stalking the other character. The first character's borderline obsessive desire to make up with the second character is relatively understandable given the personality, but stalking still felt like it had gone a little too far.
There was also an excessive amount of drug use, bad language and sexual innuendo which just felt a little out there for me, at least. It kind of felt like Steinkellner temporarily veered into a YA mindset, without really thinking about the ages of his characters.
I had a great time reading this book, and I'm definitely looking forward to Teddy Steinkellner's upcoming YA debut, Seniors. This is a young author with a lot of promise, and I look forward to seeing his star on the rise.
I recommend this book for fans of Trash Can Days, but also for fans who are looking for a creative MG that details what burgeoning teenagehood can feel like.
About the author:
Teddy Steinkellner is a young adult, an author, and a young adult author.
He has written two novels, Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga and Trash Can Nights: The Saga Continues. Both books tell the story of four middle schoolers -- Jake, Danny, Hannah, and Dorothy -- as they experience the hilarity and the humilation of junior high.
Teddy is a 2011 graduate of Stanford University, where he majored in English and American Studies, and where he began writing Trash Can Days. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. He was indeed dumped in a trash can himself as a seventh grader, but luckily he managed to avoid receiving any purple nurples or swirlies.