Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Gospel According to Larry

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted...I had everything ready to go early and was going to "publish" on the date I sent everyone...but with the holiday etc...I forgot!!! We're touring Pittsburgh for a few days and in the middle of the Andy Wharhol museum I remember I didn't post this! Thank goodness for hotel internet access. So here we go!!!

Can't wait to hear what everyone thought! I originally read this book a few years ago and was immediately intrigued by the premise...the author as a character in the novel- claiming to be stopped in a grocery store by a young man with a story he wanted told. I worried that students wouldn't understand the premise...but those students that I've recommended it to over the years were fine with it...the book has been a hit with anyone who read it.

What I loved most about this book were the messages about our culture and its obsession with consumerism, materialism, celebrities, and a general lack of global concern and activism. I think this is something to which our students definitely need to be exposed. I also loved the parallel story line about Beth- Josh's secret love. The story was face paced and exciting...and I loved the format the author used- the footnotes, sermons and pictures of his possessions were very effective. My only concern with this novel...and to be honest it wasn't a concern when I first read the book...but I later thought the bible passages could be an issue to some folks. Curious to see what you thought? In fact the first time I read this book I was so enthralled with the story line I didn't even make note of the passages until someone pointed them out to me!

I found the character of Josh to be both endearing and intriguing. Who wouldn't love a kid whose mother had to tell him, "no science homework after dinner" to get him to behave? And I really like how he goes to Bloomingdales to talk to his Mom! Josh's voice is clear and clever and has tremendous teen-appeal.

There is a sequel to this book I would highly recommend to anyone interested, this is titled Larry for President. I actually think I liked the sequel better...if that's possible!

I enjoyed this book on many levels- I thought the writing was sharp and funny, I was taken in by the characters, but I was mostly impressed with the messages: What do people need to live happy lives? Why are we so wrapped up in material possessions? Is our obsession with ME ME ME irreversible? Are activism and volunteering a lost causes? Maybe this book could spur discussion groups to discuss these issues. As Tashjian shows, there's plenty to talk about.



Darla said...

What a timely story. I was beginning to think that I was the only person in the world who felt that Christmas and all the other holidays were over the top. It is refreshing to see "Larry" so concerned about the decisions we make.He may seem a little too "sixtyish", but I liked Larry. I would have liked him for a friend when I was a teenager. Sometimes he was deceptive and breaking into his stepfather's briefcase was surely not one of his virtues, but I did like his constructively rebellious nature.
Also, I think that Beth was a bit too harsh on him. She could be more understanding and flexible. It was interesting that their relationship was on such a Plutonic level. I don't know how much of that is believable, but it makes for a good story line. Predictability is boring and this book was not that, for sure!

Cathy said...

I too enjoyed the book. Larry aka Josh showed great leadership qualities and the fact that the book was written as the memoirs of Larry showed he still had conviction in his beliefs. It did remind me of the 60's especially when Josh went underground. It also showed the power of the internet on teens. This part was a little scary because teens could easily be led astray- Larry may have had good intentions but once he had a following he could have led them astray. Would they have followed knowing who he was- No Do we always know the source of the information we get over the internet?

Amanda said...

I also liked the way the author introduced the book by saying that she was approached by Larry with the manuscript. I enjoyed the extra personality provided by the footnotes. This book is a great way to get students to begin thinking about how they are "victims" of consumerism and perhaps think about the amount of money, time and value they waste on material goods. It was also interesting to see how Larry became so popular through the Internet and how anyone, credible or not, could spark a movement for better or worse. I agree with Cathy, that this is a good example of how anyone can put anything on the Internet without being honest about who they are.

RKennedy said...

I enjoyed the book and agree with the idea that consumerism plays a huge role in peoples lives today. It is a great book to point out just how driven by possessions our society really is.

However, I wonder how many students at the high school level will really be able to relate to this book. I think many kids nowadays are too caught up in consumerism and will not take the book seriously. I think that for the handful of students that will take this book and its contents seriously it is a great recomendation.

I read the sequel, "Larry for Presdent" and was not as impressed. To me it seemed a little far fetched and at some points unecessary.

Kim Seeley said...

I LOVED this book. It really made me think about how many objects I own and I how I am pursuaded by consumerism. I liked the style of Tashjian's writing, and to me, it seemed like a true story. The footnotes became distracting to me after awhile though.

I really enjoyed the secret way that he posted his possessions and his sermons. However, I agree with Cathy, in that it shows how scary the internet can be. Things have definitely changed and the world is scary. Betagold was almost stalking him and I was worried for Larry.

I read the sequel to this book, Vote For Larry, and liked this book much better. I would recommend it though if you want to follow up on Larry. Great book choice Kathy!

cvanslyk said...

The story was very enjoyable and was fast paced. I know that Josh thought what he was doing was good but it had a disasterous effect on his step father and other innocent people he was involved with. There was a great deal of foreshadowing which really added to the excitement. The whole situation with betagold basically staulking Josh was suspensful. I really wondered what betagold was going to do with him. I actually thought there would be a more violent ending. At first I didn't really pay much attention to the Bible passages. However, the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that Josh was very sincere as well as brilliant. Holy scriptures were important to him and he tried to follow them. The most important thing to Josh was contributing. He was able to preach to a million people about the dangers of commercialism which was a major accomplishment for anybody. However, he discovered that he could contribute just by being nice and helpful to others.

Jim West said...

This was definitely an interesting story! A real page-turner. I loved the message regarding material things and consumerism, but I agree with Becky that I don't think some of the high school students will take this message seriously. They are all so caught up in having their cell phones, ipods, video games, etc. I think that many of our students would be completely lost without their material things, and they would not know how to have any fun without them. I thought that Larry was doing a good thing, leaving his sermons, and I guess if I were a teen in this book, it would not matter to me who sent the message. I would have been more interested in the message itself. Betagold added flair to the story, but ruined a good thing in the end by exposing Larry/Josh. I was sad to see the sermons end. In closing, this was a very interesting read, and although not every student will take it seriously, I would recommend it being added to the reading list. I am sure the book would provoke some students to think about these current issues in our culture.

Darla said...

I agree with everything that everyone said..For one, few young people are going to relate to Larry. I don't think they can survive without their gadgets. Isn't it strange how they can remember their cell phones and Ipods, but forget their homework?..maybe if they taped their homework to their electronics... forgive me for being cynical...Characters like Larry just don't seem to exist much any more. He makes for an admirable albeit unrealistic hero.

chris klafehn said...

I enjoyed the story, but I too am concerned that teens are making their choices about beliefs based on what is read on the internet. I have to agree with the thought that the internet is so scary. Not only are today's youth victims of consumerism, we all are. Reading this during the season of holiday shopping made me think about what we were purchasing. The idea that Larry had the opportunity to be so popular on the net, but lacked the confidence in himself to share his views as himself was a bit troubling. I worry that we are relying on gadgets to avoid being vulnerable. More kids this weekend at a wrestling tournament were talking/texting on cell phones rather than talking to each other makes me worry.