Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Jeremy Warsh has been in off-mode ever since his grandpa’s death a couple years ago. He set aside their shared passion, comic art, and hasn’t looked back. As an introvert from the other side of town, he fully expects to spend his boring life bagging groceries until, maybe one day, he’s promoted to store manager.
Yet, his two best friends, Kasey and Stuart, are different. They’re not afraid to demand more out of everyone. When Kasey comes out, Jeremy’s inspired. He picks up his colored pencils and starts drawing comics again, creating a no-nonsense, truth-talking character named Penny Kind. Who speaks to him. Literally.
The friend group set in motion Stuart’s plans for a huge Homecoming prank, and if they can get Penny’s comic trending, they might be able to pull it off. Could this be a stepping-stone to a future Jeremy’s only dreamed of? And after he kisses a boy at a college party, will Jeremy finally face what he’s been hiding from?
I don’t know why I haven’t found or heard of this author before but Jess Moore is now firmly on my radar based on the absolute brilliant storytelling I found in The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh by Jess Moore. This novel just blew me away on so many levels that I hardly know where to start and I’m certain not to do it justice.
All the trials and tribulations of high school can be found here, as well as the angst and anxiety that seniors face that final year going forward into an uncertain future. All these unformed young humans, trying to figure out who they are, how to be not only the best person they can be but what type of person that is, including the sex of the person they are attracted to and want to date. Frame that within the even larger framework of telling their friends, family, and horror, the school network finding out…all before the homecoming? It’s stress by the truckload on teenage shoulders trying to do homework, tame their hair, skirt bullies, and find love.
And Jess Moore has delivered us into a world full of characters that we recognize immediately as so realistic that we lose our hearts to them, bleed for them, and cheer them on as they slowly find their paths forward. Sometimes it’s a wonder any of our young survive high school.
Jeremy Warsh is such a memorable young man. When we first meet him, he’s still grieving over the loss of his grandfather, the other person, other than his mother, who really raised him, who was his foundation. He’s got a white boy’s “fro” with his frizzy hair, sort of pudgy, tall, intelligent, responsible, kind, and about the change the course of his life. He’s our narrator and window into his world and life. I couldn’t have wanted anyone finer or more complex. Kudoes to Moore on his creation.
Jeremy’s best friends Stuart and Kasey each have their own journeys to go on while still being part of Jeremy’s and he a strong partner in their decisions as well. Especially Kasey’s. But Jeremy has an unusual support from a cartoon he’s started to draw, a sassy girl called Penny Kind. She offers up all kinds of advice on herself, Jeremy’s life, and how the cartoon is being drawn. How I loved this aspect of the story!
Another deeply moving and heartfelt portion? The mother/son relationship between Jeremy and his mother. It never feels anything but real. It contains its natural flaws of any such familial relationship , but the support and love that flows between them is something that’s a joy to read. I just adore the dynamics here. In fact that goes for all the relationships as laid out by the author for Jeremy and his family and friends. It all has a truly vivid and authentic ring to every thread and character set down in the story.
That includes Jeremy finding Matt and his discovery that he’s gay.
And the manner in which he deals with his lifelong school bully.
This book is amazing! This review doesn’t begin to go into the many layers of storyline and the nuances of life these young characters face with determination, grit, tears, and laughter. And the reader will be there with them every gripping step of the way.
Just be aware that once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down. So pull out that ice cream, get comfortable and be prepared to settle in until this astonishingly moving story is over and you’re cuddling your Kindle close to your heart. Because that’s how The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh by Jess Moore makes you feel. About Jeremy, his future, and this story.
It’s one of my top ten of 2018.
Cover art: Natasha Snow. I like this cover and don’t. Because both eye catching in its portrait of a teenager but clearly not Jeremy. I ‘m not sure anyone could capture Jeremy or Penny KInd!
Published November 26th 2018 by SunFire Imprint of NineStar Press
Edition Language English