Title: Noah Can’t Even
Author: Simon James Green
UK Release Date: 4th May 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Humour
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book! All thoughts are honest and my own.
Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is…Well, it’s pure HELL. Why can’t Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone – maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light? But Noah’s plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That’s when things go from bad to utter chaos.
Today is a very special review because this blog post is a part of the Celebration of Pride that Scholastic are running, which does what it says on the tin: celebrates pride. I think LGBT+ books are so important, as people should be able to see themselves in books – books are a place where you can find solace and solidarity, and therefore they should cater for everyone. I also think that LGBT+ books are a great way for others to learn more about different sexualities; I know I’ve really learnt a lot!
I first heard about Noah Can’t Even at the Scholastic Bloggers’ Book Feast back in January, when there was a very hilarious cover reveal for Noah Can’t Even (can we just have a moment of appreciation for the cover, please?) and I knew that I was simply going to have to read it. The concept behind it already promised absolute hilarity, as well as some really lovely core themes and ideas, and so I was extremely excited when a copy of it arrived. Sometimes building up high hopes for a book can be a bad idea in case it ends up being not as good as you’d hoped, but Noah Can’t Even absolutely did not disappoint.
As I mentioned above, I was expected great humour, and I can say that Noah Can’t Even ticked this box and then some! I think a large part of the comedic value can be attributed to the random nature of elements of Noah’s life, such as his mum’s job performing as a Beyoncé tribute act and his dad’s absence, as they were all things that hypothetically could happen in real life, but the combination of everything happening to one boy will inevitably cause him some sticky situations. Another thing that really stood out was that the humour wasn’t just a product of circumstance; Noah was just innately awkward as a person, which clearly was not fun for him, but it did mean that his actions could often backfire very horribly, causing more hilariously awkward moments.
I also loved the discussion around sexuality in this book. As mentioned above in the description, Noah is kissed by Harry, his best friend, at a party, taking Noah by surprise as his intention in going to the party was to kiss Sophie, a popular girl. This leads to a whole load of craziness and tension, as he doesn’t really know how he feels, and Harry is upset by Noah’s handling of the situation; Noah is keen to brush the event under the rug, while Harry refuses to act ashamed of his sexuality, and becomes frustrated with Noah as a result. I thought this was such a great overarching message to have, as it really illustrated one of the key points of the book: that no one should feel ashamed of their sexuality, or feel as if they have to hide who they are.
Finally, I absolutely loved the characters. This book boasts such a great cast of outstanding characters, from Noah’s crazy family to his great friends and unexpected enemies, and they were all really strongly characterised. Their personalities were often rather over-the-top, which only added to the humour and mayhem, and lots of them brought some rather unexpected plot twists to the story. For me, plot twists are one of the things that make a book, so I was very pleased by how excellent they were – I was always taken completely by surprise, and thought they were cleverly done, so I was highly impressed with that element of the book!
Overall, I really enjoyed Noah Can’t Even. While I think it is known for its exceptional humour, I would also like to emphasise what a good book it is all-around, with some great messages about being true to yourself, excellent characters, and truly brilliant plot twists. I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for an LGBT+ book to celebrate this month.