In Memory of Todd Woods

by you, Tom Taylor.

You put a lot of work into this novel of teen friendship, love, and discovery, and you’re very proud of it.

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How do you know when someone is popular? When his death changes the lives of people who didn’t even know him. Bob and Pete weren’t nearly popular enough to know Todd, and yet his mysterious death has changed everything, including their friendship. Suddenly lines are being crossed. Bob finds himself in the elite crowd, dating Ellen Trumbull, the girl Pete has been in love with for years. Is it possible for Bob and Pete to let girls into their lives and still remain best friends? Does change mean the end? If they could ask Todd Woods, maybe he could tell them.

Writer’s Digest Likes It
Tom Taylor has given Young Adult readers a new and thought provoking novel. In Memory of Todd Woods is about friendships, love, loss, and learning to handle the changes that are natural in our lives.

Bob, Pete and Martin are friends and nerds – not geeks, there is a difference. Bob and Pete have been friends for most of their lives. They are not part of the popular crowd. They, along with two girls named Jen, are the AV club. They hardly knew Todd Woods, but his suicide turns their world upside down. Can their friendship survive when Bob starts dating Ellen Trumbull – one of the most popular girls in high school, Todd Woods’s girlfriend, and the object of Pete’s crush? Can Martin make his way into the popular crowd and the heart of Maggie Smart? Why has the death of Todd Woods affected all of them?

The characters are well written and feel like real high school kids. I was pleased to see that one of the characters, Alan, was not the cliché that I thought he was going to be. Todd Woods is already dead when the story begins and we learn, little by little, what happened to him and why he is integral to the story and the lives of these kids.

Taylor has written a novel that is fast paced and has a story in which many YA readers will be able to see themselves. High school is a fun, exciting, and hard time. Friendships change when romantic relationships start to become important. Readers will be drawn into the lives of Bob and his friends.

And Here’s What Kirkus Review Says
Two best friends navigate the emotional surprises and social hazards faced by modern teenagers. Bob and Pete have been best friends since before they can remember. They speak to each other in Star Trek code, know all the tricks in every arcade game and can talk about anything while sitting under one specific traffic light at a quiet intersection. The only problem? They’ve both recently fallen in love with Ellen Trumbull, the most beautiful, most popular girl in school. When Ellen takes a fancy to Bob and introduces him to her rarefied social milieu, Pete is left on the margins. Bob finds that he has no one in which to confide his anxiety about all the new experiences related to having his first girlfriend; to his adolescent dismay, he also has no one to brag to. While Pete builds a life without him, Bob discovers that all is not as perfect as it seems in the upper echelons of high school society. Although the jocks and prom queens present a veneer of coolness, the suicide of one of their own, golden boy Todd Woods, has thrown their assumed invulnerability into question. As Bob and Pete strive to reconnect after Bob’s romantic betrayal, they discover that everyone, even the wealthiest and the prettiest, suffers from the same emotional growing pains. Taylor channels the thoughts, feelings and perspective of the male teenager so effectively that the reader may experience acute nostalgia—whether positive or negative—for his or her early teen days. It’s curious, however, that, despite providing the title and the conceit of the novel, Todd Woods’s suicide remains somewhat vague. Ultimately, though, this oversight matters little; the real subject of this coming-of-age novel is the precarious evolution of male friendship.

A heartfelt yet unsentimental look at the lives and loves of American adolescents. –Kirkus Review

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