Genre: Fiction, YA
Publication Date: 2001
Cameron Wolfe is used to living in his brother Rube’s shadow. And why wouldn’t he be? Where Rube is attractive, charming, and gets all the girls, Cameron is skinny and silent, and spends most of his time in his own head. He dreams of “getting” a girl, but the only action he’s getting happens late at night and solo.
Then Rube starts dating Octavia. Cameron knows his brother too well, and he’s seen how his previous relationships have gone. Rube dates a girl for a few weeks, and then abandons her. In the past this hasn’t bothered Cameron, but this time it’s different — Octavia is different.
The further in love Cameron falls with Octavia, the more strained his interactions with his sibling become. Can the brothers’ thicker-than-blood relationship survive this test, or will it be destroyed forever?
It’s not often that I read a book with a male protagonist — especially a teenage one. It was interesting to read a story that probably would be told very differently through a girl’s eyes.
Getting the Girl typifies the “coming of age” story: Cameron is ready to leave his brother’s shadow, but doesn’t know how. He loves every girl he meets, but doesn’t know how to interact with them. He wants to know what he’s meant to do and who he’s meant to be, but doesn’t know how to figure it out. He wants to prove himself, but is hampered by his own insecurities.
In short, he’s a teenager. It’s something everyone can understand. I enjoyed seeing Cameron slowly begin to bloom, and I appreciated the interspersed “handwritten” notes he writes to himself. The book is written in first person, but Cameron’s notes bring the reader even further into his confusion, and his fear that he will never understand himself, or be understood by the people he loves.
Getting the Girl was a great book; it reminded me of several cringe-worthy teenage episodes in my own life, and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my feeling awkward and trapped and happy and afraid of the future. I can easily understand why Zusak is a well-rated and popular author.
“I’ve thought once in a while about the color of kindness, and I realize that its shades and contrasts are not painted onto a person. They’re worn in.” (p. 59)
What’s your favorite “coming of age” story? Doesn’t it feel nice not to be a teen anymore?