“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before • YA fiction

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
by David Yoo
Brand New! September 2008 • Disney Hyperion Books
YA Fiction
A hilarious new YA novel from the author of Girls for Breakfast.
Story: In this desperately funny novel, David Yoo tells an authentic story of first love, and therein captures the agony, the mania, the kicking and screaming that define teenage existence.
Story behind the story: David Yoo writes, “I had a tendency, growing up, of falling for girls who shortly thereafter got back together with their ex-boyfriends, thereby instantly transforming me from a good friend into a third wheel. I’ve always wanted to write about that. And one summer in high school I had an incredibly dull job at a golf course, where on my lunch breaks I’d head over to this pond on the 9th hole and throw rocks at these huge frogs that lazed around the edge—my only respite from the boredom. The frogs were only twenty feet away, and yet day after day, for an entire summer, I could never hit a single one. I’ve always wanted to write about that, too.”
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below for reviews to date from your colleagues.


Vikki Terrile said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is one of those books I finished reading and sat back and said, "Huh?" The book feels like it's trying too hard to be edgy, deep and funny, all at the same time, and it falls flat. The liberal sprinkling of late '80s/early '90s pop culture references seems much more relevant to adults than today's teens, and the voice of narrator Albert Kim (presumably that of an adult telling this story of his first love) also never quite works. I wanted to like Albert and Mia, the two main characters, I really did, but Albert struck me as annoyingly self-absorbed (not uncommon, of course, in teenaged protagonists, but this time around, it weighs the story down) and Mia as the cliched dream girl who's not fully developed as a character. This novel might have been funny and fresh had it been edited to a much shorter length (it's 320 pages without much happening), but as is, I can't imagine I would recommend it. Rating: 1

Vikki Terrile
YA Services Coordinator
Queens (NY) Library

Sandy said...

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before contains charming humor while slowly drawing you into the plot. The length of the novel did work counter-productive so the book seemed to drag in parts. Characters were believable but I wanted more from them. Albert portrayed a typical teen caught up in his first love and the roller coaster ride of life. However, Mia appeared shallow and I wanted more character development. Maybe this was just Mia but I wanted to see the normal emotional turmoil that goes with being a teenage girl. I enjoyed the book but I am not sure it would be one that could hold the interest of a teen reader. Rating 3.5
Sandy W
Middle School Reading

llemma said...

A romantic hero doesn't have to be romance-novel perfect, but he ought to at least offer some redeeming characteristic that enables us to root for or at least imagine his success. Unfortunately, the narrator of Stop Me is so utterly unpleasant that this reader felt compelled to keep reading only by the faint hope that rejection would offer some sort of growth for him. No such luck. The girl's only imperfection is her inexplicable-to-me attraction to her ex-boyfriend and to the protagonist, both of whom seem like not just teenaged jerks but actual bad people. The pseudo-edgy blog-post tone might appeal to some young readers, but the prose is surprisingly convoluted; those who can read it are probably too discriminating for it. Rating: 2, or, "whatever, free library book."

jlarkin said...

I'm sorry - I couldn't finish reading it. First of all, I did find part of it funny. However, as a 7th grade teacher, there was way too much sexual innuendo, inappropriate language and other references that would make me too uncomfortable to have this in my library - the sleaziness of Gino's character alone! Rating - maybe a 2.

Ellen said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is funny. I enjoyed the dated references, but was unsure as to what time period the books intends. It is a very long read and seems a bit rambling. The main character, Albert, is one I felt sorry for and ashamed of at various times. I don't think he is a character students will be able to relate to, overall.
I think this book would make for some interesting discussion in my Children's Literature course, but I don't know how many children would understand the references or be able to relate to the range of feelings shown in the book.
I really wanted to like this book, but it just wouldn't let me.
Rating: 2.5

Laura said...

Albert is one of the most consistently unlikeable narrators I have ever encountered, and he goes through almost no character growth over the course of the novel. This is a very difficult hurdle for any book to get over, and Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is not able to overcome. Despite some excellent characterization, interesting situations, and fine writing from Mr. Yoo, Albert's complete and total inability to see anything beyond his own wants and needs makes sympathy for Albert hard to come by. I was only able to make it to the end of the book by imagining Albert's eventual growth, but it didn't ever happen. The one part of the book that I did truly enjoy was Albert's summer working with Mia. When Albert's life is going well, he is funny and charming. Rating: 2

Jennie said...

Part of the book are funny and Yoo writes an unbelievably authentic voice in Albert. Sadly, it was also one that really annoyed me. I knew Albert in high school--not my favorite person and I was never sure why Mia went for him. Part of me felt really sorry for him when things went wrong, but part of me just wanted him to shut up. I think teen boys, especially the lovable losers, will identify and like it.

Rating: 3

Anonymous said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is a fun read at the beginning and drags the second half. Albert, the narrator, sees himself and acts as a friendless loser. It's easier than trying to fit in and taking a chance of being ridiculed. Over the summer, he works with Mia, the most popular girl in school. They get together, but as he says--love stories have to end badly and ours is no exception. The time Albert and Mia are getting together is fun to read, but when Mia's ex-boyfriend is diagnosed with cancer, the story drags just like Albert and Mia's relationship. It was extremely difficult to finish reading this book although the ending does offer hope for the relationship and shows that Albert has matured emotionallly. The story is a 3 or 4 at the beginning and a 2- the second half.

Amanda said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before was funny, yes, but it tried waaay too hard. The characters were obviously written by an adult, a quality that should be hidden within a story. Readers should be able to relate to the characters, feel their age. I felt Albert was 40 trapped in a teens body and Ryan was just kinda thrown in to make the book longer. Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this selection. Bummer.

I give it a 1.5

Amanda Snow
Youth Services Librarian Assistant
New Mexico

Anonymous said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before isn't too memorable or thrilling. It reads just like another awkward teenage novel with way too many sexual references and inappropriate langauge.
It wasn't horrible to read, but it is definitely not a book to include in your classroom library or to recommend to a student. Older high school students may find it okay, if only for the high school themes, but this is not a book I would recommend to anyone.
Rating: 2

Mila said...

Reading this book I realized that I don't read that many YA books written by guy author. Not that there are not many YA books written by guy authors. So, with 'Stop Me...' I really do try to read it with open mind.
The first half of the book is a little bit agonizing to go through.
We are introduced to the main characters (Albert, Albert parents, Mia and the House - by narrative) and their personalities. There are some jokes that just not quite there (or maybe I just cannot relate because it is written on guys perspective?). Also I never do believe the personality of Albert parents -- it just seems trying-too-hard to become stereotypical (again... I am keeping an open mind). The relationship growth between Albert and Mia do provide an entertaining revue during the first half of the book.
Honestly, it took me couple of days to even start the second half of the book. Since I cannot relate well with the story (which is quite rare in my experience, since I mostly cannot put down a book I'm reading), there's no sense of urgency to actually finish the story. If it's not for the commitment to write this review - I would've just put it on my read-but-not-finished shelve.
The second half of the story tellls Albert's adventure on his high school post summer.
It's rather interesting to see how his social circle and personality changes. I think it teaches reader that you don't have to be the same person all-through your high school year just because. Nothing really stands out from the second half but, I am glad it has a happy ending (and I am done with it).
All in all, I probably will not personally recommend it but again, it might relate to guys better than gals. So... a 2.5 rating, for trying but not quite there yet to be relatable universally to both gender.

Lisa S said...

This one wasn't fast enough for me. I guess because I am not a teenage boy, maybe I didn't identify well. It has its place, but I struggled to make sense of it all.
Picnic Basket rating 2

Ari said...

Picnic Basket Rating 4

I love the book. No, I am not a boy or an awkward person at romance. But I think we can all relate to first loves not going exactly as planned. I teach middle school and a lot of my students are struggling with finding their place in the world - aren't we all? I think it is refreshing to have a character, Albert, who does not have it all together. Who tries, really tries, but is still socially awkward.
In an odd way it took me back to high school and gave me a totally different perspective, one from the kids who didn't fit in the group. The kids on the fringes.

I felt that I could relate to Albert and Mia. I enjoyed their journey and the windy way the story was told. My kids are loving it to.

Ms. V

7th and 8th grade ELA
KIPP TRUTH Academy Middle School

Clix said...

Good idea, poorly executed. While I can identify with the awkwardness of teenage romances, and I sympathized with the main character, I kind of wanted him to start using just a smidgen of sense. The humor is quite clever and a little snarky - my kind of stuff - but since I didn't care for Albert much at all, the introspectiveish parts lost my interest. I also can't really think of anyone I'd recc this to. There's a bit too much introspection and drama for it to appeal to most guys, despite the male protagonist, and not ENOUGH to draw in most of my girls. There are a few who'd enjoy the humor - maybe - but that's not enough to carry the whole book.

HS English teacher (9-10)

Clix said...

Oh stink! Forgive me - that was my first one and I forgot the rating.


Katrina B. said...

I really wanted to like this book: quirky characters thrown together in unlikely circumstances, but I never really liked the characters. Albert was annoying and selfish and incredibly limited. I kept trying to imagine that a person could actually feel that way and never really bought it his extreme self-pity. It was painful to finish and I confess that while I read it within a week of receipt--and had to force myself to finish, I kept putting off writing this review because I could not muster any enthusiasm for the book. Random side note: I never really understood why Albert and Mia wanted to try to HIT the frogs--like so many things in the book, I felt it was trying to funny and quirky but ended up being weird and creepy.

amanda-9th grade student said...

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before Rating 5

I liked the detail, the insight into Albert’s feelings, and the point of view in the situation. Like in the beginning he was talking about his relationship between himself and Mia, and how he said he wasn’t the bad guy. I think he was a very likeable person. This book was amazing.

Linda Neilson (HS Teacher) said...

I loved the start of this book. I was immediately hooked--it was funny. I could see the character of Albert in some of my students. It really seemed like a slice of life from a lovable character that was in the "loser" category at school.

But once Mia's ex-boyfriend is diagnosed with cancer it became too much. I read it very quickly, if only to get finish it. I was disappointed at how bizarre Albert's character became. I didn't recognize him from that point on.

Overall, I guess I'd give it a 2-3.

Anonymous said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo was a book that I would only recommend to a more sophisticated reader. This is not because the story line or premise of the story was shocking. Instead the author in an attempt to make the story more edgy chooses to use unecessary profanity that may offend some readers in a school setting. High School students would not have a problem with the word choice but middle school students or some parents may. That said, I did enjoy the plot. I felt while reading it that the main character, Albert Kim, was similar to the new sitcom on CBS this fall called "Worst Week". Everything that can go wrong to Albert does. He attempts to come out of his self imposed social isolation after spending a summer job with the school's most popular girl, Mia.However, their relationsip hits more roadblocks than summer highway construction. The villian in the story is the most popular boy in school, "the House" who has broken up with Mia before summer break. The author tries to conflict the reader in a love, hate relationship with the villian. The reader has to hate him for finding a way to finagle himself back into Mia's life, but then he finds out he has cancer. This creates the delimna for the reader, should one hate him for being deceitful to Albert and Mia or feel sympathy because of his illness. Albert is also confused about how to react toward "the House." This should cause tension in the story, but instead it just creates confusion in the story.
I liked the premise of the story but I confess that I felt dissatisfied throughout reading it. Albert never quite gets his act together, which I diagnose as lack of character development. Mia seems wishy, washy, which may be some teenage girls personalities, but not a trait that would lure readers to feel for the character. I do think that the author has an interesting story concept, illustrating the awkwardness of adolescent social lives in a quirky way. Yet I feel the book needs more polishing and character development to make it truly an interesting read,
Laura Miller
Buhler High School

Anonymous said...

Stop Me never did catch my attention and I never became attached in any way to the characters. The author tried to be creative in comparisons but deviated too much from the story line and, at times, I felt as if I had started reading another book. I did lend this book out to a high schooler who loved the prologue (said that was the best part of the book). I would not recommend this book for students younger than high school due to language and sexual references. Unfortunately, I would rate this book a 1.

Katie Graham said...

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before made me laugh out loud at some parts and very bored by others. There are too many long analogies when you just want to read the real story. The plot is also hard to relate to because there are so many issues that most everyday teenagers do not have happen, like cancer, getting TB, being a nerd dating a hot girl, or being from a different culture. I felt like there were certain parts missing or unrealistic like why did the students never once mention him being Korean. It seems like he would be teased at least once for this. I did finish the book but it took longer then it should have, definitely not a page turner. I would give it a 2 or 3.

Sandra Stiles said...

I had trouble getting started with this book. It seemed to drag. The relationship was one I see more in my 8th grade students. I assumed part of Albert's problems stemmed from his family which seemed dysfunctional. Yoo did offer help for the family by sending them to counciling.
I felt sorry for Albert at times because he couldn't make Mia see what Ryan was doing. He let his anger build up until it broke up their relationship. He wins the girl in the end but not until Ryan gets what from Mia what split them up in the first place. It wasn't a bad read. Not as fast paced as I like. I have some boys that are very similar to Albert and might be able to identify with him. I wold give this book a 3 and place it on my shelf.

Christy said...

I really tried to like this book. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't get past how annoying the main character was. He offered no redeeming qualities and was way too whiny. It appears that Albert enjoys being a loser way too much and seems to revel in his 'outsider-ness'. I didn't see growth in any of the characters and it doesn't appear that anyone has learned anything throughout the year. It is obvious that Mr. Yoo is a talented writer and I can't wait to see what is in the cards for him, however, this book just falls flat. I will put it on my bookshelf at school and see what my students think of it. Overall, a 1.5 to a 2.0.

Christy Clark
Middles Grades Langugage Arts
Bradenton, Fl

Anonymous said...

I would rate this book a 2. The story tried to put every school cliche and stereotype into one book. The characters were annoying and I found myself wanting the story to end quickly.