Blagden’s debut, a fast-paced story of a teen trying to figure out his place in the world and his sense of morality, frustrates even as it charms. Cricket has lived in a Catholic church–run orphanage for years, and now that he’s a senior, he’s not sure if his future lies in being a drug dealer, a boxer, or in ending his own life. Other than sparring, Cricket is only motivated to watch old movies and watch out for the younger kids in the orphanage. Defending them from bullies often gets Cricket in trouble, but his habit of smarting off to authority figures also does him no favors. Nor does his crush on classmate Wynona, girlfriend of school bully Pitbull. There’s much to enjoy about Blagden’s storytelling, which is why so many things—Cricket’s overly goofy language (“Foxy Moxie totally shocks the shiitake mushrooms out of me”), Wynona’s undeveloped reasons for dating Pitbull, Cricket’s homophobic and unchecked comments about his principal—are letdowns. The result is an exasperating story from an author with potential. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ruben Pfeffer, East West Literary. (Mar.)
"A profane, profound debut. . . . One of the most wrenching and engaging young-adult books to come along in ages."—The Wall Street Journal
"This is a truly original work, and fans of Sherman Alexie may find a new favorite in Blagden."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"Dear story, you rock. . . . All readers will appreciate Cricket's complex, lovable character and the strong adults who nourish it."
"Through Cricket, Blagden offers a fine masculine viewpoint that expresses the intensity of grief."
"Readers who like male protagonists and gritty, contemporary settings will enjoy this carefully crafted novel."
—VOYA, 3Q 3P J S
"Cricket conveys his damage through a wildly inventive voice; his often profound philosophies and speculations about life, parents, art, sex, and God are couched in energetic (and sometimes shockingly profane) imagery that turn ordinary language into the verbal equivalent of a Chihuly glass sculpture--colorful, twisted, brittle, and arresting."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Holden Caulfield, meet 2013. With his irreverent, hilarious, and heartbreaking first novel, one thing is clear: Scott Blagden is the real thing."
"Dear Life, You Suck will certainly offend a few and delight thousands. Profane, sacrilegious, and defiant, this debut novels crackles with energy. It has depth and human significance, by which I mean the real stuff of real life."
"Cricket Cherpin is profane, funny, hard, vulnerable, kind, angry. In other words, he's as complex and as unique as you or me. His unusual and realistic voice will grab you from the first page and stay with you long after the last one."
—Francisco X. Stork
"Dear Cricket, you rock!"
Gr 9 Up—In present-day Maine, Cricket Cherpin is the oldest resident at the Naskeag Home for Boys. Since he arrived at age 10 with a scar in the shape of an "X" marring one side of his face, he has been both trouble to the nuns who raise him and a godsend to the Little Ones who look up to him. Taught to box by the caretaker of the property, Cricket protects the younger kids from bullies, one school-yard fight at a time. But it comes at a cost. He is one fight away from expulsion and eight months away from his 18th birthday. His request to remain a boarder at the home is denied, and Cricket must decide where he will go when the nuns can no longer protect him. The way he sees it, he has three options: go from collecting fees for a drug dealer to dealing himself, take Caretaker's advice and box for real, or choose the easy way out and end his life. Throughout this first novel, Cricket evolves from an angry young man into the role model the younger boys believe him to be. His internal dialogue evolves as well. The beginning pages are wrought with sarcasm and teen speak that will likely be as difficult for some teen readers to decipher as it is for adults. However, as the character changes, so does the writing. This is a truly original work, and fans of Sherman Alexie may find a new favorite in Blagden.—Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR
Dear story, you rock. Seventeen-year-old Cricket Cherpin (yes, his real name) has lived in a Catholic orphanage in Maine since he was 8 and his little brother died. He has a deep facial scar, the legacy of a prostitute mother and a drug-dealing father, and he hides an even deeper, internal scar through constant fighting and irreverence for authority (he's not afraid to tell it like it is), religion (he hates Jesus), language (f-bombs land) and sex (he thinks about it a lot). Although Cricket is deemed a bully, his punches keep younger boys and school nerds safe. In this debut, his first-person narration, loaded with biting sarcasm and never-ending nicknames for his oppressors, reveals the push and pull of his soul. Cricket loves old movies, feels comfortable with his feminine side and relishes telling stories to the younger orphans, yet emotions surrounding a potential romance, guilt over his brother's death and an uncertain future make him ready to jump off the local cliffs. While a slow build of hints to Cricket's past helps explain his current state, a sudden chain of events forces him to confront his violence, relationships and the direction of his life. Only fellow classic-movie and -television buffs will understand all of the teen's references, but all readers will appreciate Cricket's complex, lovable character and the strong adults who nourish it. (Fiction. 14 & up)