Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: April 21, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 288
Goodreads || Book Depository

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry “used “to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn s best friend who insists it s time that Quinn came out at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy a hot one and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.


4 stars

On paper, The Great American Whatever is exactly my kind of book. Grief, LGBTQIA+ elements and a coming of age story is exactly what I like in a contemporary novel. And while I did enjoy it, I didn’t really connect with it as much as I thought I would.

This novel is about Quinn, who’s been struggling for the last six month since the death of his sister and the abandonment by his father. When his best friend tries to pull him out of his funk, he finds romance and discovers things about himself and his sister that he never knew before. As a coming of age story, it was enjoyable and contained lots of great character growth. The development of Quinn’s character throughout the novel was nicely paced and done quite seamlessly. However, I have to say that I felt a little bit bored at times. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 75 pages and the last 100 or so pages but the middle section felt like a bit of a drag. There wasn’t really much happening and I just didn’t really connect with the book for quite a bit of the middle section.

This was probably in part due to the romance. I wasn’t a huge fan of it but didn’t hate it either. It was just a little bit average and I suppose that was exactly the point of it… so maybe this isn’t really a criticism but more of a pat on the back for Tim Federle? I just didn’t really feel anything from the romance and I think that was what made the book seem a bit boring and draggy for me in the middle. Having said that, I did like the role that the romance played in the book and appreciated how it played out.

Even though I didn’t connect with the romance, I did really like Quinn as a main character. I connected with his sense of humour and loved his snarky tone. His voice and his personality were fantastic and I just really enjoyed how realistic he came across as a character. He just seemed like a really normal boy (who’s obviously been through some rough times) and I could see him being someone from my everyday life. His reactions were genuine and I never felt like he was just a fictional character.

Overall, I did enjoy The Great American Whatever. I had a little bit of trouble connecting with the story, especially in the middle section of the book, but I thought the beginning and end were really strong. It’s a quick read and I thought it was a successful YA debut for Tim Federle.


11 thoughts on “Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

  1. Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

    I didn’t know this was a debut! I’m intrigued by the grief and LGBTQ subjects it touches upon, but that lackluster romance is making me go like “ehhhhhh” 😛 It seems like Quinn was a pretty interesting character though! It helps that the book isn’t that long (288 pages seems decent).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      He has some other books but this is his first YA novel! He also has a short story in the new Stephanie Perkins summer anthology, which I’ve been meaning to read for FOREVER. I liked the book and enjoy it even though the romance wasn’t what I thought it would be. But there’s a reason for it and I can appreciate that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Valerie says:

    I didn’t know how short this book was! Honestly this wasn’t really on my radar until now though! I’m glad that Quinn was super realistic, and the fact that he is snarky is a plus (I love snarky characters haha).

    Awesome review Jenna! I’m going to have to think about whether I want to read this or not haha. I might!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Thanks Val. I don’t think this book is going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it quite a bit but just had a hard time connecting with it fully. A lot of other bloggers have liked it too so I can happily recommend it 😀


    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      It was definitely a great coming of age book but not my favourite. I read a lot of coming of age books and I’m usually able to relate to them and connect with them emotionally. I had a bit of a hard time doing that with this one, though I did really love Quinn, the main character.


  3. cw @ readthinkponder says:

    I haven’t heard of this book before, but after reading your review, I am DEFINITELY intrigued. I like books that explore grief too – it’s so complex and even though I’ve read so many (A Monster Calls took the cake for me), I’d like to read more.
    I need to read more books that have characters that fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, so that’s another plus! Thanks Jenna! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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