Tag Archives: Word Nerd

Review: Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen

19 Oct

Publisher: Tundra Books
Released: August, 2010
Genre: MG/YA contemp
One sentence summary: Quirky characters + a quest for George Clooney = one hilarious, lovable book.
Review copy from publisher.

Violet’s TV-director dad has traded a job in Vancouver for one in Los Angeles, their run-down house for a sleek ranch-style home complete with a pool, and, worst of all, Violet’s mother for a trophy wife, a blonde actress named Jennica. Violet’s younger sister reacts by bed-wetting, and her mother ping-pongs from one loser to another, searching for love. As for Violet, she gets angry in ways that are by turns infuriating, shocking, and hilarious.

When her mother takes up with the unfortunately named Dudley Wiener, Violet and her friend Phoebe decide that they need to take control. If Violet’s mom can’t pick a decent man herself, they will help her snag George Clooney.

From Tundra Books website.


Let me just pause for a moment and worship the awesomeness that is Susin Nielsen. Seriously. I love her writing so much I’m thinking of setting up a shrine.  I’ll call it The Queen of the Quirky Character and it will include a scrabble board, stocking hat, and season 1 DVD of ER. Each day before I sit down to start writing, I’ll pray to The Queen of the Quirky Character to guide me and let me create characters half as interesting as hers.

So, yeah, I kinda fell in love with this book. I mean, the title alone would make anyone wanna give it a read. In a sea of one and two worded titles, it sticks out like a sore thumb. A glorious, wonderful, inspired sore thumb.  And the innards of the book match the awesomeness of the title, for sure.

Violet isn’t always a nice kid and that’s cool. I mean, in the opening scene she does something so horrible, so gross, so funny that I was shaking my head in awe of Nielsen. It takes a lot of guts to start a book off the way she did. I won’t say anything else, but trust me, it’s horrifically cringe-worthy stuff.

In fact, the whole book is filled with cringe-worthy stuff, and that’s what I love so much about Nielsen’s writing. This isn’t a book filled with gorgeous, perfect characters who always say and do gorgeous, perfect things. Oh, no. Violet, her family and their friends are awkward, imperfect and so realistic. She’s a kid who acts like a kid. Kinda refreshing, no?

I also love that we see the characters from Nielsen’s Word Nerd, too, although it took my slow brain until almost the end of the book to realize this. I think it’s awesome that her books are kinda, sorta companion books, but not really.

Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom made me happy. It put a smile on my face and made me sigh blissfully. And the George Clooney parts made me snort, for real. Funny stuff. Hell, the whole book was filled with funny stuff, another reason why I love it so freaking much.


Review: Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

11 May

Tundra Books, 2010

Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.

Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to.

From Tundra Books website


Man, don’t you love when you pick up a book to read and about three sentence in you’re like, “This rocks!”.  Yeah, that’s how it was for me and Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen. 

Ambrose, and all of the characters, are wonderfully quirky, but not so much that they aren’t believable. All of us, regardless of our age, know or have known an Ambrose (some of us have been an Ambrose). Awkward, geeky, no social skills yet blissfully unaware most of the time. He was just such a great character to read about and get to know, from his scrabble loving ways to his purple pants and hand made hat.

The friendship that blossoms between Ambrose and Cosmo is so unlikely, yet makes perfect sense at the same time. Kinda like when someone dares you to eat some food combination that should be gross but is totally delicious.

Nielsen has written episodes of the popular Canadian TV series Degrassi Junior High and also four Degrassi books (there are Degrassi books? MUST FIND!), so she is well versed and well practiced in writing about youngsters. And it shows in her writing. Everything described, no matter how weird, is believable.

There are messages in Word Nerd but they don’t seem forced. From family love, to getting over our fears after losing someone, to realizing that no matter how weird you are, there’s a place where you fit in, this is just a warm and funny and fuzzy book. And I can’t wait to read more from this author.