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"How You Ruined My Life"
By Jeff Strand @Jeff Strand
Publication date: April 3, 2018

Thanks to for providing this advanced readers copy.

Humor without curse words! A high school punk rock band without curse words! A book that would work in either middle school or high school without curse words!

"How You Ruined My Life" is a humorous story based on the premise of opposite finances. Two high school cousins who haven't seen each other in 10 years have to live together for three months. Rich cousin from California has to live with poor cousin in Florida. The author does a good job of creating the main characters' personalities including having the reader flip-flop back-n-forth over which cousin is the crazier one.

Written as if the Florida cousin is narrating the story to the reader, the first-person storytelling effectively conveys the desperate need for the cousin to have the reader on his side, while at the same time admitting how awkward his convincing is. Struggling readers may need some reminding that the style of writing is at times conversational, at times an internal dialogue, and at times a brief, stray off topic - just as anyone relaying a longer story might stray off topic.

The book comes across as a battle of wits and wills, pranks and pratfalls, while at the end there's a bit of a Bildungsroman. This sets up the possibilities of a conversation with readers if they would forgive and forget or hold a grudge, if they would go one with their intended paths or forge a new plan for their futures.

Though humorous books are sometimes a hard sell, I'd purchase this for my HS library (and recommend it to our MS library) because it's an accessible, light-hearted read.

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