So I know it’s a little past Midsummer for a hilarious, modern, YA retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, but this book is too funny to pass up. The Loser’s Guide To Life And Love by A.E. Cannon was published by HarperTeen in 2008. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout this book, in fact, I started to annoy by parents because of it. This novel seamlessly weaves the Bard’s plot with modern movie references and humor all into one delightful novel.
Ed feels like a loser. His life consists of watching TV, bugging his sister, playing video games with his neighbor Quark, and working at Reel Life movies with best friend Scout. There they spend their time wondering who the mysterious “Sergio” is, a former employee whose nametag Ed is stuck wearing. However, that is all about to change when the gorgeous Ellie walks in. Ed knows she is way above him on the social food chain, but things might be different if she thought he was Sergio . . .
Scout is fun, smart, her high school’s literary magazine editor, a soccer star, and she may or may not have a slight obsession with regency romances. However, she has an even bigger secret: she is crushing on her best friend, Ed. Though she occasionally envisions what he may look like wearing Hessian boots, she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Besides, he is too busy to notice her when he counts from 1 to 10 in “Brazilian” to Ellie and pretends it is love poetry.
Quark has a rational, scientific mind. He is a genius braniac, though most aspects of pop culture and social interactions fly right over his head. However, through the inspiration of an old 60’s song, he considers trying a new experiment: one of love. And he sets his sights on Scout.
Ellie couldn’t be happier. She is staying with her aunt for the summer, singing under the tutelage of a professional instructor, and has made new friends with Scout and “Sergio.” Ellie couldn’t be happier . . . on the outside. But she harbors a past that still makes her ache with hurt. Maybe Sergio will help her be happy again.
Through these four very different characters, this book is full of hilarity, mix-ups, deceit, and young love. This laugh-out-loud read not only keeps you smiling at every page, but also shows deepness through the figurative masks (or a nametags) the characters all hide behind. But by the end, love will out and the masks are unveiled under a midsummer’s moon.
Book Group Questions
- All four characters hide themselves under a figurative mask. Why do they fear revealing their true selves to others?
- Ed thinks he is a loser and his life would be a whole lot better if he were Sergio. Throughout the book, as he pretends to be Sergio, he feels more confident. Why do you think he exhibited these changes even though he wasn’t really Sergio at all?
- Quark and Ellie are both innocent and intense in all they do. In contrast, Ed and Scout are both joke-cracking movie buffs. There is the expression “opposites attract,” but the attempts at those relationships failed in this novel. What are the pros and cons to having an opposites-attract relationship as opposed to relationships with people who share similar personality traits?
- What do you think Ali was testing Ed for at the end of this story?
- What are the similarities between this book and Shakespeare’s play? What are the differences?