Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Milo J. Wright: Dreaming the Impossible Dream (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you're the kind of person who can't watch a movie or read a book without complaining, "That so wouldn't happen," or "That's so unrealistic," then you're not going to like Freshman for President by Ally Condie. Because, let's face it, the plot requires a little - maybe a lot - of that good ole' willing-suspension-of-disbelief thing. If you can accept the highly improbable, then I think you'll enjoy this sweet novel about following your dreams, no matter how impossible they seem.
The freshman in question here is Milo J. Wright, a "sideliner" extraordinaire. He's one of those guys who's on the soccer team, but never starts; is liked, but isn't wildly popular; does well in school, but will never be valedictorian. In other words, he's a pretty average 15-year-old. Except, he's got plans to push himself into the limelight - he's going to run for class president. So, when school elections get cancelled unexpectedly, he's devastated. Now, how is he going to lose his "sideliner" status?
Fortunately for Milo, his best friend happens to be a genius. Eden James knows exactly how to get him noticed - she's got a brilliant plan to get him elected president. Not just class president, mind you, but President of the United States of America. So, okay, there are a few flaws in her idea - (1) The president has to be 35 years old; (2) Successful campaigns cost more than Milo makes mowing lawns; and (3) Who's going to take a teenage candidate seriously? Even if they find solutions to those issues (and they do), Milo still has to deal with school, Pee Wee soccer, girls, and his sister, who seems to have changed into a different person overnight. Despite all this, Milo is committed to his goal. Not only is he going to make a name for himself, but he's also going to make sure teenagers get a voice in the election. Even if he can't win for real (since he's too young to take office), he can sure as heck try. With a little help from his friends, he may even make a difference in the world. In the process, he'll learn a great deal about friendship, determination, and what it means to reach for an impossible dream.
We've already determined that the plot of this book is a little far-fetched. Still, it's a simple, positive story about teenagers working toward an honorable goal. In a YA market saturated with black-cloaked, doom-and-gloom novels, Freshman for President glows with positive energy. Not only is it a clean read, but it's upbeat and inspiring. I'll take that over vampire-hunting any day. Sure, the book could use some work - characters could be fleshed out, Milo could have more compelling motives, the kids could speak less like 7th graders and more like high schoolers - but really, it's refreshing in its simplicity. Condie picked the perfect election year to publish this book; U.S. citizens just elected a man of color to the presidency, clearly anything can happen. A teenager running for president? Maybe it's not such a long shot after all.
Grade: B+
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If you want your own copy of Freshman for President, all you have to do is answer this just-for-fun-question: How would America change if a teenager did become president? I will draw 1 winner on February 28. Good luck!

12 comments:

  1. probably for the better they tend to think more out out of the box than analytically thanks for the giveaway

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  2. What a good question. If my teenage son became president, he would probably try to make the school curriculum more exciting so kids would like to go to school. :) I think most teenagers are quite conscious of the environment and social concerns. There might be a lot of positive changes.

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  3. I'd love to encourage my son's reading with this book.

    rsgrandinetti(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  4. For some reason, that's a tough question. I think teenagers often think of things in extremes so it would be very interesting to see what he/she might come up with. Please enter me in the drawing.

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  5. As long as they could sleep in late, I think a teenager would have good ideas.

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  6. I think the changes would be along these lines:

    1. More White House parties, with more people invited. Lots of pizza.
    2. Tax code would get changed to something much simpler. What teenager wants to have to do something which stinks like really bad homework?
    3. The President would do quite well with foreign leaders who are decent folks, after all, a teenager just wants good friends, right?

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  7. The first thing that came to my mind is that the would figure if we just printed more money we could get out of this crisis. Beyond that, a teenager's fresh thinking would help shake things up. This country can definitely use some new ideas!

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

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  8. I had similar thoughts to Janel - print more money because then everyone would have some! I think there would probably be more of an effort to make everything more "fair" too. It seems like all teenagers I know are always complaining that something isn't "fair" and should be.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  9. I think if a teen became president there is no way s/he would part with his/her blackberry.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    Kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. Did you know there's actually a teen who became the mayor of his town? I remember learning about it in high school. It was pretty cool.

    All I can say is Thank Goodness there's an age requirement to become president. I don't know how well a teen would go over in the White House. Simply because as a teen, I was much more liberal on certain issues, where today as a thirty-something mom with more experience under her belt, I have a much better idea of what working together means & what really is important and what isn't. I don't think the normal teen would be able to bring those qualities with them. It would definitely be interesting to see what a teen would do though.

    I'm excited about this book. And what a fun question for your contest! Thanks!

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  11. If a teenager because president I think the first thing they would do is put soda back in the schools! At least that is what my two teenagers would do. *lol*

    Looks like a fun read... for me and my kids.

    alisonsannouncements at yahoo dot com

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  12. I don't know, kids are pretty smart these days. It all depends on the kid, but it could work. It would be interesting.

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