Wednesday, January 31, 2018


June 5, 2018
Disney Hyperion

Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.

NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE covers plenty of components prevailing high school dramas nowadays. It will pull you in different directions. But high school is not a high school without its dramas. And I love how Preston Norton held it all together and accomplished a profound deliberation. He pulled no punches and they all connected. There are plenty of raw emotions, and I truly believe many will benefit from reading this, whether they believe in God, or not.

Cliff is such a remarkable character. Neanderthal. Everything about him is huge, including his compassionate heart and quick-witted brain. There is balance in him (Luke Skywalker would be so proud) not many people notice. But there is also pain and guilt in him. Many times I wanted to hug this giant and tell him that his heart is in the right place.

This book is amazingly moving and funny. I may have snuffled and snickered in some places, both at the same time. I spent highlighting several passages; I cannot get enough of Norton’s wit. He assembled an array of curious characters and addressed vital issues, BIAS foremost among them. A big issue comprised of many things, making life unbearable for most people, especially for our youth.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For the sensitive folks, be advised that there is plenty of swearing. But also know that life isn’t real without them.

We're all gonna die. And we only have so many fucks we can give in a lifetime.
So give a fuck about the things that matter most.

Book details:
Author:  Preston Norton
Publication:  Disney Hyperion; June 5, 2018
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

*Thank you Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for the DRC, in exchange for this unbiased review.
*Contains quote from an uncorrected galley proof.

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