Hello everyone! Today I’m really excited to be reviewing The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc! I was chosen to review this book through @readandreviewtours on Instagram and Mrs. LeBlanc was kind enough to send me a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review! This book is super short, funny, and worth the read–so let’s do it, shall we?
Notice: this book has a New Adult target audience and has mature content.
August Barton could never have mentally prepared himself for his freshman year of college: not only has his anxiety increased, but his parents are divorcing, his new roommate thinks Augie is the biggest nerd in existence, and his grandma, a retired prostitute named Gertie, has taken to running away from her nursing home. Augie just wants to hole up in his dorm room with his Star Wars collectables and textbooks, but Gertie is not about to let that happen. What ensues is a crazy ride including naked trespassing, befriending a local biker gang, and maybe-just maybe-with Augie defeating his anxiety and actually getting the girl.
The first thing I realized about this book was that it’s extremely short—-only 174 pages in total! Of course, then I actually read the cover and saw that it was a novella, and all of a sudden it made sense. Despite my occasional inability to read covers, I was easily able to breeze through this book in three days and could probably have finished it in two if I wasn’t busy this week. Anyway, there are two main things I want to focus on for this review: characters and their relationships.
Characters: The characters are the best part of this book hands down. Each one has a distinct personality, distinct (and sometimes outrageous) circumstances that made this book feel like a wild ride from beginning to end. C’mon—-who wouldn’t raise their eyebrows at a grandma who has neon hair, wears glittery tutus, and casually busts out of her nursing home to tell college students about her days as a former prostitute? That is a wicked character description, and needless to say, is why Gertie is my favorite character in this book. She’s witty and completely unpredictable in the best ways possible. She encourages Augie to live outside of his comfort zone (again, in outrageous ways!) but reminds him and us as the audience that life is about having fun, being authentically yourself, and having lots of stories to tell when we’re all eventually her age. And I mean, how do we do that without living a little, right?
Augie is our MC and is incredibly awkward and stumbles over himself all the time, yet has a sweetheart that is troubled by anxiety and self-doubt. Again, I like that this part of him doesn’t just go away as the book goes on, but instead, we see a series of mini victories that help him step into being himself just a little bit more at a time. I think that approach is realistic and relatable and I was happy to see it unfold in that way.
Character relationships: Overall, I praise the book for displaying what I would say authentic relationships look like. This is something I don’t come across all the time in books, but when I do, it is identifiable and greatly appreciated. For example, I could feel Augie and his roommate Issac growing closer to each other as the book went on. The way they talked to each other changed. Their gestures towards each other implied that they have learned each others’ quirks and interests, etc. By the end of the book, they felt like people I could have known.
Another example of this comes in the form of Gertie and Diane. This may sound harsh, but I actually really appreciated the fact that Gertie has a strained relationship with her daughter, Diane. I think it’s…logical that this relationship is not the best (given Gertie’s… former occupation) and I appreciated that it doesn’t magically get better as the book progressed. On the other hand, though, I also appreciated the cute moments that serve as a reminder that even though a relationship is strained, it can still be worth fighting to amend.
I liked this book because it was very short, funny, and emotionally investing. If you’re looking for something lighter to pair with a heavy read, this may be it. If you like books set in college, this may be it. And most of all, if you want to hear about The Tribulations of August Barton dealing with his wicked ex-prostitute grandma Gertie, this is definitely it.