30 Days of Books – Day 15 – Favorite Male Character

I can just imagine the slew of odes to Fitzwilliam Darcy and Edward Cullen this particular meme must have spawned.

They aren’t really my type.

Front-runners for my favorite literary fella included Tom Sawyer and Peeta Mellark, but in the end it was Steve York who won my ink-blackened heart.

Steve York is the main character in Rob Thomas’s Rats Saw God. This slim tome features perpetually-stoned high-school senior Steve figuring out how he went from the honor roll to rolling joints. His high-school counselor gives him the opportunity to graduate with his class in exchange for writing one-hundred pages on the subject of his choice. After a few false starts, he begins to relate the tale of his first love.

Why is Steve my favorite? Well for starters he has more voice than Pavarotti: smart, sarcastic, funny, unreliable in his narration at times because he is so completely out of touch with his emotions, and like most smart teens he thinks he’s got it all figured out only to discover he has misread everything. He acts like a real guy, and a real teenager. Steve isn’t one of the high-school archetypes: he’s an honor student who rocks pierced ears and a do-rag,* hangs out with his little sister and drives a purple El Camino. It’s an extremely honest book, and as narrator he is as honest with himself as he can be, looking back at his sophomore self with senior-year hindsight.

If you read the book you’re going to be down in the trenches of teenagerdom with him, feeling all of the exhilaration and awkwardness, confusion and heart-imploding pain. Steve York is not a moper, nor is he one of those self-proclaimed “nice guys” who actually hate women for not falling all over them for no reason. He’s not a two-dimensional meathead trading in euphemisms for breasts and knuckle-bumps.

He’s a guy with a genuinely broken heart, who got the push to glue it back together.

*Fun fact: I had to look up how to spell do-rag for this post.

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