Official Review: Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody by AA Freda

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Amagine
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Official Review: Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody by AA Freda

Post by Amagine »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody" by AA Freda.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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“Teenagers experiment with their bodies and minds. We’re all feeling our way, you know? Trying to understand how we fit into this world.” -Spike, Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody
It’s not easy being a teenager in the Bronx, especially when you’re an Italian immigrant who’s just beginning to learn English. Thirteen-year-old Joey finds himself in a new city and having to deal with new bullies and the usual teen angst. Luckily for Joey, it’s not so bad being the new kid on the block when your older cousin, Spike, is infamous throughout the entire neighborhood.

Enter Spike, a fifteen-year-old who is the perfect display of brains and brawn. Spike is a charismatic teen who adults fawn over, boys imitate and girls fantasize about. Being the gang leader of “The Black Knights,” a mostly harmless community of teens, Spike instantly helps Joey integrate into the neighborhood. Under Spike’s wings, Joey experiences a summer full of friendship, first love, sex and ultimately tragedy.

Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody by AA Freda, is a contemporary YA novel that covers many tough topics that teenagers face every day. In the book, we see the questioning of religion, physical abuse, sex and much more. This book isn’t a fantasy. The author creates characters and a plot that readers can relate to in one way or another. There is a lot of diversity in the book as we see Italian, Hispanic, Jewish, African American and Irish characters. The plot is straight forward, but has a steady pace. The language in the book is both inspirational and graphic. It’s inspirational because with every mistake the characters make, they learn from them. Readers benefit by learning right along with the characters. The language is graphic because of the moments of violence and the sex scenes. One scene involves a drunk teenager allowing herself to be “gang-banged.” This book is not for the faint of heart.

One of the things I enjoyed about the book were the characters; Joey and Spike. In the book, Joey is the narrator, but he mostly spends his time observing his cousin. Even though… Spike is obviously the bigger character, we still get the opportunity to learn about Joey and watch his development. He starts off as a young teenager who is naïve and easily targeted by others. He stood in Spike’s shadow and we witness his insecurities as he compares everything about himself to Spike. He starts to change, as every scene that had an impact on his life, had an impact on his character. He experiences the good and bad side of youth.

Spike is another fascinating character. The interesting thing about Spike is that his character doesn’t go through changes like Joey’s. He’s definitely not a “cookie-cutter” character… he’s too complex. He helps his friends when they’re going through tough times, but he hurts them by sleeping with their moms and sisters. He is an infamous fighter around the neighborhood, but he’s also a voracious reader who enjoys trips to the library. He threatens people, but will openly talk about his dream of being a public service lawyer because he wants to make a difference in the world. Spike’s character is a huge contradiction. Those contradictions are why he is so complex and likeable. He’s complicated… and he’s okay with that. He doesn’t try to change anything about himself for anyone. He’s a strong character that I feel teenagers need to read about.

If I had to give negatives, it would be the fact that I felt Spike should have been the narrator since it was mostly his story. Also, the author tried to create an enigma in the story, “Rudy Cazoody.” Rudy Cazoody simply wasn’t interesting to the plot. I felt it was a pointless addition to the story. Despite my negatives, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The plot is realistic and relatable. Even though, at times it was a little too graphic with its sexual content, I reminded myself that sex is something that teens think about and do… whether adults like it or not. I recommend this book to older teens. Besides sex, it touches on other issues that are very important to them. This book could be a benefit.

******
Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody
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Post by kandscreeley »

This sounds pretty deep. I don't think it's the story for me, but you did a good job with the review. It almost reminds me a little of the movie with Cuba Gooding Jr. Boyz in the Hood. Thanks.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
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Post by Amagine »

kandscreeley wrote:This sounds pretty deep. I don't think it's the story for me, but you did a good job with the review. It almost reminds me a little of the movie with Cuba Gooding Jr. Boyz in the Hood. Thanks.
It can kind of be compared to Boyz N the Hood because of the gangs and sexual content. This book is more diverse in characters though.

Thanks for reading! :D
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Post by ZenaLei7 »

This seems like an interesting read, but I feel like it's a little too graphic for me. I like how this book covers a variety of topics that teens are going through today. Great Review!
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Post by Amagine »

ZenaLei7 wrote:This seems like an interesting read, but I feel like it's a little too graphic for me. I like how this book covers a variety of topics that teens are going through today. Great Review!
Thanks for reading! :D
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Post by Meggie Lou »

I don't think this story is for me but your review is very informative. It's hard to find diverse books in the YA section of my local bookstore and I'm glad to know about this one. While I probably won't read it, I can think of a few people who might like it.

Thank you for reviewing :)
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Post by Amagine »

Meggie Lou wrote:I don't think this story is for me but your review is very informative. It's hard to find diverse books in the YA section of my local bookstore and I'm glad to know about this one. While I probably won't read it, I can think of a few people who might like it.

Thank you for reviewing :)
There is definitely a strong need for diverse books in our world. I get excited every time I see one because its a sign that we're getting a little bit closer to an acceptance of all people, no matter their race or religion.

Thanks for reading! :D
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Post by CarrieMe »

I love YA books that tackle real issues, especially when they also have a diverse set of characters. Thanks for the review!
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Post by Amagine »

CarrieMe wrote:I love YA books that tackle real issues, especially when they also have a diverse set of characters. Thanks for the review!

I love YA too! It's one of my favorite genres! You'll love this book!

Thanks for reading! :D
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Post by blueberry13 »

This book is very strong and full of real life problems. I believe that it teaches a lot, and is very informative. This book has a diverse set of characters, something that I really enjoyed. I would recommend this book. :)

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Post by Nanig83006 »

It's interesting how you say the title character isn't important to the book because the title is what caught my eye. Your review gives great insight and your comment on the characters not being "cookie cutter" is delightful as I can't stand the stereotypical "omg-my-life-is-miserable-ttyl" trope that has taken over Young Adult Fiction. What's more fun is how Spike sounds like the Gatsby to Joey's Nick. I will be adding this to my shelve and, hopefully, reading it very soon. Thanks!

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Post by Anjhel12 »

I'm interested in it. It dramatically like story in real...and I really like the reviews...

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Post by Britty01 »

From this concise review this book is one I shall have to give some thought to. While it may be graphic in places, I would like to get an understanding of what it is like for teenagers living in big city areas like the Bronx.

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Post by gali »

A contemporary YA novel recounting the life of a young Italian immigrant in the Bronx during the 1960’s sounds nostalgic, but it isn't for me due to its graphic content. Well-developed characters, important themes, and realistic and relatable tale should make it a good read. Thank you for the review.
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Post by Ferdinand_otieno »

This is a contemporary Young Adult book that follows the experiences of an immigrant protagonist, his learning of the English language and the unusual life of a teenager. The OnlineBookClub review was awesome and convinced me to read the book. Congrats @aafreda1 on the BOTD.

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