Getting the Girl

Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting the Girl
by Markus Zusak

The final book in the Underdog trilogy shows us Cameron Wolfe’s evolution from boy to man. He’s constantly trying to figure out who he is and where he fits into the world, but he’s never quite sure. He can’t help comparing himself to his brothers, but he also can’t move forward in his life until he lets go of that comparison. He begins to find himself in the words he writes, a passion he doesn’t share with either of his brothers.

I think it’s impossible not to see yourself in relation to your family. How can you separate your evaluation of yourself from the lens that you’ve frown up with? Cameron bases his success or failure in life on how he compares to his two brothers, the magnetic and charming Rube and the steady achiever Steve. They are the constant measuring stick he uses on himself.

Cam desperately wants to find a girl who will love him. He watches his older brother discard one after another and it breaks his heart. He may be tough on the outside, but his sensitive heart can’t stand to see those girls get hurt.

The whole series is written as a raw internal monologue and so we see Cameron only through his own eyes. This book provides the opportunity to see Cam through the eyes of those around him. We see how his brothers and his sister view him and these different perspectives give us a more complete picture of Cam and the journey he has to take to gain self confidence.

BOTTOM LINE: A must for any fans of Zusak’s work. This early work obviously isn’t on the same level as The Book Thief, but it is a powerful coming-of-age story. Cameron’s struggle is so honest and vulnerable; it would be hard for any teen not to relate to his struggle to figure out who he is and who he wants to become.  

“Very quickly, very suddenly, words fell through my mind. They landed on the floor of my thoughts, and in there, down there, I started to pick the words up. They were excerpts of truth gathered from inside me.”

“‘You ever hear a dog cry, Steve? You know, howling so loud, it’s almost unbearable?’ He nodded. ‘I reckon they howl like that because they’re so hungry it hurts, and that’s what I feel in my every day of my life. I’m so hungry to be somethin’ – to be somebody. You hear me?’”

“I pause a moment and thoughts of death climb onto me. They hang from my shoulders and breathe in my face, and I get to thinking about religion and heaven and hell.”

You can find my reviews of the first two books (The Underdog and Fighting Ruben Wolfe) in the Underdog trilogy here at It's All About Books

BOTTOM LINE: You can almost watch Zusak’s talent grow as you read this trilogy. It starts with a relatively simple story and transforms into a powerful one somewhere along the way. The seeds of his writing are there in each book, but they don’t come to fruition until the end.

SIDE NOTE: The original books are incredibly hard to find (at least for me) in the states. Then last year all three books were published in as a single omnibus “Underdogs” and now it’s everywhere.


Nikki Steele said...

I still haven't read The Book Thief, but along with the quotes you have here and all I've heard about it, know that I need to get to it soon. Wonderful review Melissa.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Nikki - The Book Thief is definitely my favorite of his books!

Sandy Nawrot said...

After having read The Book Thief, it is really hard to imagine, even as an unpolished new author, that anything bad would come from this guy.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I know. This trilogy definitely has a different feel though. Profound, but immature in some ways.

Jenny said...

Man, these books wreck me. I went into each of them expecting very little, and each of them made me cry. Zusak is an amazing writer.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenny - I don't think I expected to love them either, but they're beautiful!