When I was growing up, teenagers had adulthood thrust upon them in the form of an unpopular war and its accompanying cultural upheaval. We learned—and believed—that the only way to change the world was to be a part of it. We lobbied to lower the voting age to 18, and won. We changed the world all right, but the law of unintended consequences caught up with us, and the reverberations of that time echo across the generations. Today, that passion for change is gone, and voting has declined to a point to where our participation in democracy is no better than many third-world dictatorships. So what’s a kid to do?
Janet Tashjian has her own answer, and his name is Larry, or rather his alias is Larry. His real name is Josh Swensen, and he’s back to tweak a complacent country in Vote For Larry. It’s been almost two years since the events of The Gospel According to Larry, Tashjian’s award-winning teen novel wherein the young crusader took on America’s consumer culture via the Internet. After faking his own death, he’s been hiding out in Colorado, decidedly not practicing the anti-consumerism philosophy he espoused to the world. He’s created a new identity, enrolled in college (at UC-Boulder), and found himself a new girlfriend. His embrace of the consumer culture comes to a shocking halt when someone from his past reappears in his life.
What follows is vintage Larry. His former soulmate, Beth, along with her boyfriend Simon, is determined to be a part of the American political system, and she wants Josh along for the ride. If you’re Josh Swensen, you don’t do anything halfway, so he decides to run for the biggest prize of all: president of the United States. The fact that he’s too young to serve is only a minor obstacle, and Vote For Larry takes us along on Josh’s passionate quest to make a difference. Things won’t be easy, though, with the media and both political parties dead set against him, not to mention his old nemesis, "Betagold."
Vote For Larry is a crash course in the rough and tumble world of national politics, and teen readers will get a taste of just what it takes in idealism and courage to achieve such goals.