Title: The Boy Most Likely To (2015)
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 425 pages
Release Date: August 15, 2015
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To… find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To… well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle.
So I picked up The Boy Most Likely To almost directly after reading My Life Next Door, which I loved. This book picks up right after MLND and can be read as a stand-alone, but reading MLND first will definitely give more context to some of the problems the characters face here, whereas reading them the other way around might spoil The Boy Most Likely To.
The first thing about The Boy Most Likely To is that it’s an example of multiple perspectives done right. We get to hear from both the main characters, Tim and Alice, but both their parts actually add something to the story — they’re not just the same scenes told in different perspectives. Instead, they’re both fully-fledged characters with their own stories to tell.
“Everyone who makes a mistake isn’t doomed to be an asshole forever.”
Additionally, Fitzpatrick is the master of character development. Tim starts out completely unreliable and kind of irritating, but then we start seeing all these other sides of him. Alice was uptight, a bit of a hard-ass, but then we start recognising that she’s just a huge softie inside.
Alice’s story arc focuses on family. Alice is a Garrett—the second, I believe, of eight children, and this is a huge part of her personality. We see her struggle between balancing her love for her family and her love for herself. If my family is suffering, is it ‘okay’ for me to go chase after my own dreams? How far should I go for my family? What sacrifices should I make for my family?
Tim’s story arc, meanwhile, focuses on rebuilding himself from the inside-out. Here is a guy who’s incredibly cynical about himself, who’s used to people having extremely low expectations of him and who relishes in that—mostly because he, too, doesn’t trust himself. At least not in the beginning. At least not for now.
As characters, their growth is realistic, punctuated with ups and downs. As a couple, they make a lot of sense. It also doesn’t hurt, certainly, that they’re both insanely attracted to each other. Their flirtations were some of the more light-hearted parts of the story, and they’re definitely welcome among the serious issues they have to face.
Speaking of which, the Garretts are possibly one of the best families I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about in YA fiction. They’re definitely not perfect and they certainly have more than their fair share of problems, but it’s so heart-warming to see how much they love each other and the lengths they’ll go to. If ever there were model parents, the Garretts should be it.
“Maybe thinking any one person can show up and give you all you need is as much of a delusion as thinking you can find truth in a bottle. Maybe you can just find what you need in little pieces, in people who show up for one crucial moment—or a whole chain of them—even if they can’t solve it all. Maybe this is the secret of big families, like the Garretts… and like AA. People’s strengths can take their turn. There can be more of us than there is trouble.”
I won’t say too much about the plot to avoid spoiling the book, but know that I really, really enjoyed The Boy Most Likely To. Just as in MLND, these characters might just be teenagers but they behave in real, mature ways, and their obstacles are incredibly, objectively difficult to overcome, particularly for a YA book. There are issues of ethics here, of morality, of black-and-whiteness, that I wasn’t expecting to see—and boy, were they handled wonderfully.
Raw, unflinching and realistic, The Boy Most Likely To is recommended for those who love a more serious, more introspective contemporary YA novel!