Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon
Charlie is the freak. Gloria is the freak magnet. They’re pretty much destined to meet. And when they do, sparks fly . . . for Charlie. Gloria, well, she just thinks he’s like every other freak who feels compelled to talk to her, although a little better-looking than most.
While Charlie has his head in the clouds, Gloria’s got hers in a book: her Freak Folio—a record of every weirdo who’s talked to her in the last year (it’s a big book). But never before has she felt the pull to get to know one of them better. Until now.
Here’s the scoop:
This is a love story about Charlie (Freak) and Gloria (Freak Magnet). One sweltering day in Washington DC, Charlie spots Gloria and is convinced that he must tell her she is the most beautiful girl his freaky little eyeballs have ever seen (only he doesn’t put it quite that way). After flagging her down in a the most romantic way (“Hey! You! Girl with the platform shoes! Girl with the hot coffee!” ) he stumbles through a brief conversation with her and Gloria is unimpressed. She’s used to weird guys trying to talk to her. She even keeps a log of the occurrences (thus proving that Gloria ain’t exactly normal either).
Freak Magnet is told from the alternating perspectives of Charlie and Gloria (a method I personally love because it allows you to get into the mind of more than one person and understand both sides of the story in a way that the main characters cannot). At first glance this seems like a quirky, silly story about a boy and a girl. And it is totally offbeat and at times, very funny. But underneath the awkward encounters and cringeworthy conversations are layers of pain and loss.
Charlie is weird—not in a creepy stalker kind of way—but in an endearing sort of way. He’s an only child and a care giver to his very sick mom, sharing responsibilities with his kind, but overworked father. Charlie has never related to people the way most do, and instead finds his comfort and solace in astronomy. He’s just won an internship to study comets in Chile for six months. Though Charlie is about as nice of a guy as anyone could ever meet, he has a big case of verbal diarrhea. He starts out really nice and somehow, with all the best of intentions, ends of pissing off most people or digging himself into some totally awkward hole where, as the reader, I was thinking No.No. No. Don’t go there. Do NOT go there Charlie. Back up! Until finally I had to admit, Charlie went there and then about twenty miles past the border. To cope with his feelings about his beloved mom, his excitement about leaving for Chile and his overall inability to relate to people, Charlie wears a Superman costume under his clothes—I’m talking every single day. Somehow he believes it gets him through and because of that belief, he is the most positive, uplifting character in this story.
Gloria is not exactly normal either. She’s been in a terrible funk since her older brother was killed in Afghanistan one year ago. Since then she’s slipped into a hole of depression. She avoids being close to anyone, including her own family, choosing instead to write her feelings in a journal and keeping a “Freak Folio” of all the weirdos that seem are somehow drawn to her. The first person to make the tiniest breakthrough in her carefully built fortress is Charlie.
This story is has alot of soul. It’s more about initial attraction and what we do when it happens. While there isn’t really swoon or major passion, the situations are very real and the emotions that come from those I-just-met-someone-that-might-be-something moments are perfectly conveyed. While I couldn’t completely relate to Charlie, I think that’s what was so likeable about him. He’s strange, but unashamed of it. And Gloria is both repelled and enlightened by him.
Andrew Auseon’s writing is funny, creative and so easy to become engrossed in. This is the first novel I’ve ready by him and I’m excited to read more.
Crush Intensity: 3.5/5 It’s good. I just wanted to hug these two characters.
“Feeling somewhat better, I gazed at the activity around me. I hadn’t even bothered to notice the garden, the people. I so often do that: forget to see what’s right there. I’m always pressing my face to an eyepiece or sticking my nose in a book. It’s easy to forget the billions of other people inhabiting all 197 million square miles of good old planet Earth. I took a deep breath and focused. I was a naturally happy person. I was all about optimism. Of course, it’s hard to concentrate when your crotch itches so badly. “