Thursday, March 24, 2016

Clicked by Patrick Jones

Three years ago, Carson’s sister ran away. Now he’s found her—on a porn site.

High school senior, Carson Banks, is trying to find out what he wants to do with his life, wanting to move forward, though a part of him is firmly rooted in the day his life changed forever. The day his older sister Caitlin ran away, and disappeared. Then he finds her—on an internet porn site.

Deciding that finding Caitlin and bringing her home is the only thing he can do, Carson embarks on a quest that ends up changing him as much as Caitlin seems to have changed herself. Coping with the knowledge he can’t share with the rest of his family—yet—Carson writes thinly veiled autobiographical stories to help him better understand Caitlin, and why she left home.

And, while using every opportunity he has to find Caitlin and talk to her, Carson’s typical teenage life goes on. Girlfriend. Family. School. Friends. Things he did in the past that he’s not too proud of. It’s a busy senior year, but he’ll count it a win if he can convince Caitlin to come home–and figure out what exactly happened on the day that she left.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of male/female intimacy and non-graphic sexual situations. This book also contains references to teen pregnancy, content about or related to online pornography, the pornography industry, stripping and gun violence.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 stars.

Clicked hooked me from page one, with the easy flow of the author's words, to the quick pacing, to the addictive quality of the storytelling. As a budding writer, Carson's narration is witty and clever. As a teenage boy, his one-track mind toward getting laid was true-to-life.

Carson's family is struggling, both in a failing economy and by falling into the trap of labeling each of their children. The A-type oldest, who excels and succeeds at everything she does. The middle problem child who can't ever live up to her older sister, where she falls to drugs and her only currency is in her body and between her legs, vs between her older sister's ears. Lastly, Carson, the baby – after living through the legacy of the A-type and the problem child, the parents don't motivate, nor do they care what he does as long as he doesn't act out as the middle child did. The baby always knows there is nothing they can do to be good enough, nor bad enough to be noticed as anything but ordinary.

As both the baby and the writer, I was able to completely empathize with Carson, especially later on as he struggled to get recognition for his writing, merely because of a boy who wrote the sweet of life while Carson wrote the reality. Fantasy sells while the bitter sting of reality makes people take their own measure, which is why I write what I write and why I enjoyed this book so much.

I appreciated how real, flawed, yet highly intelligent Carson was written. He was compassionate yet envious, the perfect mix of his siblings. As the story unfolds through backstory and Carson writing Autumn's Fall, where Caitlin is Autumn and he is August, we learn how his middle sister is no longer in the family.

Surfing the naughty websites, as Carson says, if a boy says he doesn't look at porn, he's lying, he finds his big sister's picture in a thumbnail of a video. As the catalyst of the entire book, the reader is taken on Carson's journey as he tries to locate his sister, drag his feet through school, and find a girlfriend who will actually get him laid. His mis-knowledge of sex was an eye-opener, where I hope teen boys read this story to learn girls are not porn stars, nor is sex like the scripted, drugged-out version they see playing on their computer screens.

I adored Carson, flaws and all. There were a few minor issues I had with the storyline, but the realism, the moral lying beneath the surface, and the human nature splayed on the pages made Clicked a page-turner.

Young Adult age-range: 14+

Like many teenage boys, Carson spends a fair amount of time online and plenty of it looking at porn. Carson's life changes when he comes across porn featuring his sister. Caitlin left home after a huge fight with their parents and disappeared 3 years ago.

Finding Caitlin's picture leads to changes in Carson's life. He decides to track down the sister that he loves so much. In an effort to see if the past holds any clues to where his sister might be, Carson starts writing her story for his creative writing club. He also tries to find a job and lies to his parents and best friend about what he is up to.

Like most teenage boys, Carson wants a girlfriend and sex. He does get the girlfriend he is after and it becomes clear that his viewing of online porn heavily influences what he expects from his girlfriend, Gabby. Gabby, in return, influences Carson, pushing him to continue writing his sister's story even though he is getting criticism. She also teaches him that people deserve a second chance.

I really liked that none of the characters in this book were perfect. There are several different themes running through the story, second chances, living for your dream, and to work hard even if someone is better at something you love than you are. This is a great coming of age story.

Born in same hometown as Michael Moore, Christopher Paul Curtis and Jon Sczieska (Flint, Michigan), Jones started his writing career at age eight with an article for a New York City-based pro wrestling newsletter. Since that time he has published over two hundred book reviews, one hundred plus articles, fifty or so essays in reference works, nine professional books for teachers and librarians, seven young adult novels and two nonfiction books. His current focus is reluctant YA readers, with twenty titles published since 2013, four due in fall 2015 and another four in spring 2016. In spring 2016, he will also publish a nonfiction book for teens on the changing nature of teen incarceration.

Patrick teaches an online Young Adult Literature class at Metro State University in St Paul, MN. Assignments in this class are due on Tuesday mornings so he can watch professional wrestling on Monday nights. Some things change, some don’t.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Clicked by Patrick Jones to read and review.

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