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Graduation Nights: I Love You, Beth Cooper and Graffiti Moon

July 5, 2012

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
Denis Cooverman wanted to say something really important in his high school graduation speech. So, in front of his 512 classmates and their 3,000 relatives, he announced: “I love you, Beth Cooper.”
It would have been such a sweet, romantic moment. Except that Beth, the head cheerleader, has only the vaguest idea who Denis is. And Denis, the captain of the debate team, is so far out of her league he is barely even the same species. And then there’s Kevin, Beth’s remarkably large boyfriend, who’s in town on furlough from the United States Army. Complications ensue.

This was one of the most whimy of whim purchases I’ve made. I had forgotten my book at home and couldn’t stand the thought of not having anything to read on my lunch break or commute home. So, during lunch I sprinted to the nearby bookstore. I was actually hoping to find Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy. But, it is a very small bookstore and it only took a quick look to realize they did not have it. Instead, I found this quirky-looking book staring at me from the shelves. The guy at the counter highly recommended it, saying that while not everyone will love it, he thought it was hilarious. On that recommendation, I bought it immediately. Also, it was a used copy and thus very cheap.

I Love You, Beth Cooper is just as quirky as it looks, perhaps even more so. I can honestly say I have never read anything like it – weird, crude, and yes, hilarious. The whole story takes place over one night, graduation night, and the impossible after even more impossible events that take place. Microwaves thrown at heads, unlikely make out sessions, high speed chases – you name it, it’s probably in this book.

But apart from all the hijinks, at its core I Love You, Beth Cooper is about breaking down the preconceptions we have about people – taking them down from pedestals and up from the lower social rungs – and learning they may not be what we expected.

Also, seizing that last opportunity to do all the teenagery things. And it’s just really funny. But I stand by bookstore guy’s disclaimer: not everyone is going to like this book.

A few days after finishing I Love You, Beth Cooper, I watched the movie on Netflix. I was expecting something terrible, and while it wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t horrible. It’s pretty much your typical teen movie, because it misses out on a lot of Denis’ thought processes and the asides of various characters. But I just enjoyed watching Denis and his best friend, Rich come to life. Especially Rich. He was the best part of the movie. Of course, I recommend the book way over the movie.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

I finished I Love You, Beth Cooper on a Saturday morning, and that afternoon started Graffiti Moon, which, coincidentally, also takes place over one night. And even graduation night, at that. Graffiti Moon is about a lot of the same things I Love You, Beth Cooper is about – seizing that last opportunity to have all the teenage experiences, our preconceptions and learning who people really are – but it goes about them in a completely different way. Almost the opposite way, actually.

Graffiti Moon is quirkly, mostly because Lucy is such a wonderfully quirky character, but it’s so full of *feeling*. And all that feeling is amplified by the fact that it is beautifully, lyrically written. I was pulled into the story almost immediately, enveloped all this teenage anticipation and potential and disappointment and excitement.

And it was just so good. I stayed up way passed my bedtime to finish it, and it was totally worth it. If anything, Graffiti Moon reaffirmed my love of contemporary fiction, particularly contemporary YA fiction. I will have my eyes peeled for anything else Cath Crowley writes.

Has anyone read any of Crowley’s other books? Any that you would recommend?

Disclaimer: I read an uncorrected advanced reader’s copy.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenn permalink
    July 5, 2012 6:16 am

    I’m so glad you loved Graffiti Moon — I think I’ve read it about six or seven times since it was released in the States in February. I just adore Ed and Lucy and all of their friends. I managed to get my hands on a copy of the Australian version and it’s quite a bit different from the one that was released in North America. I like our version better, but I could be biased because I read it first. I’ve also read A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, which I liked quite a bit. I think she has a book coming out sometime this year called The Howling Boy, though that could be the Australian release date. Who knows when we will get it.

    • July 5, 2012 11:22 am

      Whoa whoa. The writing is different in the Australian edition?

      • Jenn permalink
        July 5, 2012 11:30 am

        Quite a bit. I was actually amazed at how many differences there were. The American version has quite a few more art references and Lucy’s character is more defined (she’s focused less on her parents’ marital issues and more on being her awesome self). Another blogger wrote a post on the differences, if you’re interested:

        • July 5, 2012 11:33 am

          That is so odd. I’ve never known that to happen before.

          I am not worried that the Australian On the Jellicoe Road is different from the the American one. Why would they do this to me?

          I’m going to have to read the Australian edition.

          Thank you for letting me know.

        • July 5, 2012 11:57 am

          Crazy. It’s like a completely different rewrite of the book. Thanks for sharing that link, Jenn!

  2. July 8, 2012 9:42 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that Beth Cooper was better as a book than as a movie! I thought the movie was just ok so I delayed reading the book. And Graffiti Moon is so high on my wishlist, it sounds amazing!

  3. July 11, 2012 8:51 am

    Just reading the comments and I find it so odd that the two versions of Graffiti Moon are so different. Glad you enjoyed it though.

    I usually seem to enjoy books booksellers recommend.

  4. July 22, 2012 6:21 pm

    I thought the first book sounded fun but it looks like you preferred the second one. Weird that they both took place over one night, graduation even, and that you read them back to back :)

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