Sunday, July 31, 2011

Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto

Title:               Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto
Category:       Realistic
Grade:            13-16
Author:          Eric Luper
Narrator:       Nick Podehl
Publisher:       Brilliance Audio
Place:              Solon, OH
Date:               2010
Pages:             N/A

When your girlfriend breaks up with you, you lose your job, and you discover your father is having an affair, the day can’t get much worse.  Seth Baumgartner’s response is to start a podcast, the “Love Manifesto,” in which he anonymously tells the stories of sleuthing after his cheating father, plays appropriate music, and lists all the reasons why he loved his ex-girlfriend… the ones he was never able to say to her face.  Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto is a comic look at the trials and tribulations of major teen milestones like holding a summer job, dealing with parents, breaking up and falling in love. 

Seth’s dry commentary and the goofy antics of his best friend, Dimitri, are definitely laugh-inducing on a regular basis.  Nick Podehl is a decent narrator, with a wonderful ability to mimic pitches and accents that allowed him to singlehandedly bring the cast of this comedic romp to life.  He takes listeners along as they follow Seth at work, on the golf course, and into the seedier parts of town as he tries to put the evidence of his father’s affair together.  Reviewers have pointed out that the podcast itself was one of the weaker elements of the book, and this appears to be true – it seems to add very little to the story and was generally a low point; however, teens with a love for current music will appreciate the incorporation of many favorite artists and songs into the podcast.  The most important storylines appeared to be Seth’s blooming relationship with Audrey and the growing evidence of his father’s infidelity.  When Seth forces that issue to a head, he unearths a startling discovery about his family that I nevertheless found completely predictable.  All in all however, the book was a funny and enjoyable read that will draw boys and girls alike to its pages. While Love Manifesto definitely has its faults, it was one of those stories that just ends up being fun.  I generally do not care for audio books because I can read much faster than I can listen and get impatient with droning narrators.  Podehl was decent as a narrator; his dialect and pitch work during dialogue was fantastic, making his characters believable and usually distinct (even the girls). His non-dialect work was fair, but he did get into a slight rut on occasion that sent me to sleep.  In both his and the author’s favor, however, I was able to “get into” this story as an audio book right away, which is unusual.  Some of the plot points in Love Manifesto were a bit clunky and either predictable or unresolved, and the book may attract children younger than its intended audience.  Many teens will be able to overlook these flaws though, I think, due to the humor and candid realism with which Seth approaches his disaster of a life.


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