Life is full of quests. The quest for acceptance, the quest for inclusion, the quest for success. These searches all seem obvious. But what Colin Mitchell does so intriguingly in his novel ‘Matthew Willard and the Quest to Kiss a Girl’ is that he goes a bit more molecular about life’s quests, deciding to start in middle school where it all begins, and sharing his goals about liking the prettiest girl in class. The charm and whimsy literally oozes off the pages with references that are sure to appeal to all readers.
The 90’s pop-culture infused dialogue amongst the books titular protagonist and his group of friends proves to be most hilarious and realistic, and at times, slightly suggestive. However, as someone who remembers the 90’s very well, I felt as though I was reading the memoir of Brandon Walsh right out of 90210. Matthew is relatable and dorky, smart and naïve. He’s the veritable teen idol of the era that saw Dawson’s Creek take hold of the world with dialogue-laden interactions. Moving from middle school to the more dangerous battleground of high school, Mitchell successfully manages to have Matthew engage in the many often times uncomfortable situations that are inherent to all teenagers.
Of particular resonance to me is early on in the book. Chapter 3: Your Best Friend, highlights what goes on when boys have a sleepover. In most books I’ve read and TV shows and movies I’ve seen, sleepovers are always held from the point of view of the girls. From Grease to The Babysitter’s Club, it’s the gaggle of girl giggles that permeate any scene of a sleepover. I found it very refreshing to read about a sleepover with boys and the types of chats they have and its associated dynamics. Maybe Willard can write a male-centric Babysitter’s Club? Just a recommendation.
Mitchell has an uncanny ability to completely thrust the reader into the trials and tribulations of the novel’s lead character through clever word choices and finely detailed dioramas of dialogue. Matthew Willard is a movie wafting to happen, and I’ll be the first in line to see it.