The election results haven’t quite sunk in yet I think. It feels like we’ve a horror thriller that’s come to life.

Do you know the Brotherhood of Man song, United We Stand? It seems to have come up on my shuffle playlist a lot lately, and maybe this is what we need to remember today: United we stand, divided we fall. For most of us, this outcome is bad, but for some, it is their civil rights which are at stake. So instead of being able to teach our children that they can be anything today, we need to stick together with those who really have an uncertain future now: Latinos, Cubans, Muslims, – not as a minority, but sadly now at risk of being put back a century – women, LGBT people.

To remind children it is ok to be yourself, even if the outside world does not make it easy, here is a wonderful book to read:

Setting is Pittsburgh, we see a messy house. Cut to a bedroom. Dirty, smelly, hot pockets lying everywhere. Enter Quinn.

Quinn Roberts is part of Q & A Productions, a production company he created with his sister Annabeth. He is the screenwriter, she shoots, and together, they are aspiring to be the new Coen brothers. Or at least they were. Until Annabeth died in a car accident and Quinn shut himself into his room. He has not been to school, not gone near it, not seen the memorial painting on the wall, which makes his sister look like a pug.

Our hero is not much of a hero. His unfinished screenplay has not been touched in months.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend. He is the one to finally get Quinn to go outside, take a shower, put on a semi-clean shirt, and eventually go to a party. Here, our hero meets Amir, and suddenly he can think of something other than his sister and the fact she is no longer there. He can think of Amir…

The Great American Whatever is a coming-of-age story between Quinn’s relationship with Amir and the revelation that he didn’t know his sister as well as he thought. It is sad, yet witty with laugh out loud moments (the ones where you actually laugh, not write lol and fake a little smile). The dialogue is genuine, Quinn’s comments unedited, and the story full of lovable characters – isn’t this what we all need right now?

Alternatively, pick up your Harry Potter books again, you may be able to relate to the part where the Dementors appear and turn the world cold, icy and bleak, we certainly can.

The Great American Whatever, by Tim Federle
First published 2016

ISBN 1481475460, ISBN13 978-1481475464

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