The ease with which Steve Kluger delivers My Most Excellent Year made me overlook just how many courageous leaps he took. He wrote the book as if the three students that are the main characters were just everyday people doing everyday things. It wasn't until I finished that I realized just how different these characters, and this book, are from all of the others that are in its genre. The first thing that I noticed was that one of the students (Auggie Hwong) was gay. This is a touchy subject with a lot of people, especially in today's society. However rather than pointing out the negative (which is seemingly all that is ever publicized on this particular topic), Kluger describes the tremendous amount of support that Auggie has. Both of his parents are fine with his sexual orientation, as is his lifelong best friend. Everyone knows how viscious high school can be, so seeing the amount of support that Auggie has by the whole school is something that is practically unheard of. The next thing that touches on unfamiliar territory is the rebellion that one of the characters (Ale Perez) demonstrates against her parents. While teenage rebellion might not be anything new, the fact that her parents are well-respected political leaders is. She completely disregards her parents wishes for her future and does exactly what she wants to do, which happens to be acting. Kluger is sending a message saying that you shouldn't be held captive by what is expected of you.
The last thing that I noticed was much more subtle, much harder to explain, and much more present throughout the whole book. At first, the last of the main characters (T.C.) is just your average high school student. But as the story goes on, you realize that he has little to no regard for what an "average" high school student should be. His best friend is gay, his girl friend has her own secret service agent, and on top of it all, the thing he cares for most in the world is a six year old boy who is deaf. Hucky, who lives at a home for orphaned deaf children, takes a particular liking to T.C. because he loves to watch him play baseball. Over time, they become very close friends and rely on eachother for just about everything. This kind of friendship is hardly one that you see everyday, and it is refreshing to see a character who could care less about what "normal" should be.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and was pleasantly surprised by the subtle depth that is represented by it's characters. Never have I been presented with a story so outside the norm, that reads as though there is nothing unusual at all. This isn't a difficult story to read, but the maturity that is presented with each issue takes it to a whole new level. It's entertaining, it makes you think, and it captivates the readers undivided attention. To me, that's good literature.