When Charlie was eight years old, his mum bought him a microscope for his birthday. Since then, he’s known how he wants to spend his life. There have been trials, and challenges, but now – finally – the day is here for him to start college with his lifelong friend Anthony Pace.
Anthony is a red-haired force of nature. He writes poetry about their enemies and eagerly participates in all Charlie’s science experiments without understanding a word. Every morning, he waits at the end of their street so they can get the bus together.
But things are changing.
Families are important, and complex. Charlie’s mum hasn’t been well, and his relationship with Anthony begins to shine like a different star in the sky.
Can everything come together in this explosion of physics and chemicals that Charlie calls life? Will Anthony Pace ever share his poems with the world, and can the Chihuahua, Princess Arabella, ever learn to stop licking?
Once a boy shows you the stars, they’re a hard act to follow
Claire Davis and Al Stewart are word magicians. Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! is the third story of theirs I’ve read. The previous ones, Dear Mona Lisa… (review by yours truly here) and Up!, were fabulous, and so is Anthony Pace.
Davis and Steward don’t write your garden variety characters that you can find in a gazillion other books. No, their characters – and stories – are unique and quirky and humorous with a clear thread of sadness running through them. They are the kind of stories that grab you in the heart and refuse to let go for days after you finished them.
Charlie and Anthony have been friends for a long time, since they were kids. Now they’re starting college, and are very excited. Their friendship is strong, even though they’re very different. Anthony is the red-head poet who understands Charlie completely, and offers him a safe haven whenever he needs it.
Charlie is the scientist to Anthony’s artist. He’s somewhere on the autism spectrum, but when his mum took him to the doctor, they didn’t want to diagnose him.
Charlie firmly shut the door in his head, the way Mum showed him when he was eight years old. He shoved away the galloping horses in his chest, the wire around his head and the dam wanting to burst from his eyes.
It becomes clear at the very beginning of the book that Charlie’s mum isn’t well. He does his best to take care of her, but it’s overwhelming and difficult for a teenager with undiagnosed autism. His mother’s illness is the only secret he’s kept from Anthony, and it’s difficult as they grow closer and their relationship deepens and takes a new turn.
When everything explodes, it’s magnificent. I hid in the bedroom with a box of Kleenex and ached as I watched Anthony being there for Charlie. My heart throbbed for hours afterward.
Thank you, Ofelia Gränd, for recommending this book to me. I blame you for my puffy eyes and runny nose after finishing the book, though! 🙂
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! gets my warmest recommendations.
I finish this review with one of Anthony’s poems. They are naive and fabulous, and tells you everything you need to know about what kind of person Anthony is.
Now spectrums they will cause
Lots of speculation
Nattering about you and your supposed
Problems with communication
But I hear
And I see
You are not problems
Not to me
Your beauty is much bigger than mine
I know one day
You’re gonna shine