HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Why Me?
Author: Ellen Conford
Publisher: Simon Pulse, republished 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0316153263 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0316153265 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0671741525 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0671741527 Paperback
Language level: 5
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: For ages11 and up; I’d say 14 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Conford, Ellen. Why Me? (Published in 1985 by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA). Fourteen-year-old Hobie Katz lives with his father, who owns an insurance agency, and mother. He is a ninth grader in school, where his best friend is Nate Kramer, and works part time at Bookathon, his grandfather’s bookstore in Million Dollar Mall. Hobie is hoping to sweep women off their feet in the manner of his spy novel hero, Mac Detroit, but runs into complications. The object of his affections, lovely Darlene DeVries, won’t give him the time of day and is pining for Warren Adler, an obscenely tall basketball player who is a junior. On top of that, Hobie is being chased by budding marine biologist G. G. Graffman, a girl who is NOT the object of his affection but has studied the bestseller How to Make Men Crazy. Which she does to Hobie.
Finally, Hobie manages to get rid of G. G., who turns her attentions to Nate, and Darlene warms up to Hobie as she starts to notice the poetry that he writes for her. Expressing her appreciation for the poems, Darlene asks for more. Does anything happen between Nate and G. G.? How will it affect Hobie’s friendship with Nate? And what is Darlene really doing with Hobie’s poetry. This look at the love triangles of young adolescents has a few common euphemisms (e.g., “gee”). There is no cursing, but phrases like “My God” and “Good Lord” are used as exclamations, and Hobie says, “All I knew was that if G. G. pursued me with the same single-minded determination she had—up till now—pursued jellyfish, my a** was eelgrass.”
Why Me? certainly has a degree of humor in it. Also it incorporates many of the usual trappings of modern adolescent social life—school, the mall, the movie theater, eating pizzas, etc. And based even on my own observations when I was in high school some fifty years ago, the portrayal of attitudes and relationships between boys and girls is fairly accurate and typical of the common public school culture. However, homeschooling parents, especially those who are trying to raise godly families, deserve much better literature than this. I guess that the one redeeming feature is the lesson that it’s not nice to abuse other people to make yourself feel good and tear them down to build yourself up.