Dysfunctional families always make for a good story. In Eliot Schrefer's follow-up to his 2006 debut, Glamorous Disasters, the author mines similar themes having to do with the upper and lower classes.
In The New Kid (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $25), Humphrey and Gretchen are half-siblings who share the same mother...
Gretchen got away from their dysfunctional family as a teenager and now, the younger Humphrey is left alone to navigate his teenage years from a Florida motel room, where his down-on-their-luck parents have moved.
Gretchen, meanwhile, has graduated from Harvard and is traveling around Italy with her ex-boyfriend's parents, who are filthy rich and think the world of her.
Humphrey is used to being the new kid, having moved a half-dozen or so times in his life, and he hates it. He falls in with what he considers to be the cool crowd, in particular a boy named Wade and Wade's unfit mother, Brandy. After a drunken night at Brandy's ends up with Wade hitting on Humphrey and then Humphrey getting beaten to a pulp, Humphrey decides to take Gretchen up on her offer of living with her in Italy for a while.
What happens in Italy is left for you, the reader to discover. All is not as it seems with the would-be in-laws.
The book is partitioned into three sections — "Humphrey," "Gretchen" and "Gretchen & Humphrey" — which makes it a pretty easy read.