How does she do it? K.L Going, I mean. How does she create these books with the most unsympathetic protagonists and then make you CARE about them? Talent, I guess. Details, too. And a dash of everyman with a pinch of recognition. However she does it, it is a recipe for success. In her latest offering, KING OF THE SCREW UPS (Harcourt, 2009), Going gives readers Liam Geller. He is a popular bad boy with a retired runway model mother and a crazy successful business-obsessed father. But Liam spends most of his time apologizing for all of his actions. Finally, Liam's father throws him out of the house. Liam takes refuge with his DJ-ing, glam-rock-band-playing, uncle, someone Liam calls Aunt Pete. Now Liam lives in a trailer out in the boonies. Should be easy to quit screwing up, right? To please Dad, right? Not so much.
Going's ability to take these teens who seem unable to redeem themselves and transform them before our eyes is amazing. It's not magic; there is no sudden turn around nor guarantee that all will always be well. What there is is HOPE that even the screw ups can find acceptance and maybe even love. As Liam's neighbor Darleen says, "You can't create love, Liam. You just have to take it wherever you find it." Amen.