Jenkins, A.M. Out of Order. New York; Harper Collins, 2003.
I loved this book. Colt is really great at baseball, but not at love or academics. He is in love with his on again/off again girlfriend Grace, but she refuses to have sex with him. Then there are his academic difficulties. He just isn't that smart.
Things come to a head when Grace dumps Colt at the same time that Colt is failing a few of his classes, which means he may not be eligible to play baseball. With the help of a strange new student, who he calls Chlorophyl because of her green hair, he does a little better in school and gets a new perspective on things. He does grow up during the course of the book; he goes from being a jerk to being a person who does consider the feelings of others sometimes, which is at least a step.
I have enjoyed all of the books I have read by this author. I like this one in particular because it is very honest. Most YA titles tend to be written about or told from the perspective of average or honor students. Also, most protagonists tend to be the "nice one" or the one who is being wronged by someone else. This book is told from the perspective of a kid who isn't great academically. He also isn't that nice of a person. He wants to be liked by people, he thinks he is better than most of the kids in his school because he is somewhat popular, and he can really be a jerk a lot of the time. I like this perspective, though, because it is honest. So many books, while entertaining and well-written, start to sound alike after awhile. A book like this stands out from the rest because it is so different. The character grows during the course of the story, but he still is a work in progress.
There have been a few other books similar to this one lately. One such book was 10th Grade by Weisberger, which is written with misspellings and grammatical errors throughout. That one didn't work for me because I couldn't figure out what he was saying most of the time due to the run-on sentences he used. This book is at least written so that the reader can understand what is being said. There were a few grammatical things going on, but that was necessary to show that Colt isn't the brightest kid. And, even then, the grammatical issues were only in the dialogue. The only place where words were misspelled was at the end where he writes his English essay; there were all sorts of problems with the essay, but it was true to how Colt would have written it.
I look forward to reading more books by this author.