“Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year” by Vincent Traughber Meis

“Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year” by Vincent Traughber Meis 166 265 Reader Views Kids

Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year

Vincent Traughber Meis
Spectrum Books (2023)
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (01/2023)

Fourteen-year-old Colton (Cole) is desperate to meet his birth mom. He loves his dads, but they have no idea what it’s like to be Black, and he’s hoping his mother will offer some solidarity. Unfortunately, the meeting isn’t what he’d imagined, leaving him feeling more lost.

Lost. One of the many feelings Cole will experience in the terrifyingly beautiful year ahead, followed by the euphoric feeling of his first kiss and the heartache of falling for a girl that lives in another country. If that isn’t enough, he falls victim to the ignorant racism spewing from his cousin’s mouth, his dad’s health scare, and a shocking family secret is more than he can take.

 Why didn’t anyone warn him that growing up would be so confusing?

“Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year” by Vincent Traughber Meis is a timely book about a young, Black male trying to make sense of growing up during 2020 when the whole world seemed to be falling apart. Relevant topics such as racism, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the pandemic are weaved into this coming-of-age story that ultimately depicts a quest for self-discovery. Like other teens, Colton is beginning to see the world through a different lens, leaving him questioning where he belongs.

This is the second time I’ve had the privilege of reading one of Vincent Traughber Meis’s novels, and it didn’t disappoint. The character-driven book is emotionally charged with an emphasis on age-appropriate dilemmas—friction within friendships, familial drama, and navigating romantic relationships. I commend the author for his inclusivity and character representation from various backgrounds and identities. This created a strong sense of reader relatability, especially for younger readers discovering how they fit into the world. It tells the reader—You are seen and your story matters.

Beyond the character diversity, I enjoyed the changing landscape when the family visited Thailand. The author painted a vivid picture of traversing exotic beaches, ornate temples, and a breathtaking lantern display which quenched my thirst for culture. Thanks to the author’s attention to detail, I was transported to various locations easily.

Overall, the book offers a fresh perspective on issues youth face today, particularly Black males who are often at a disadvantage. The characters are well-developed and diverse, appealing to a broad audience of readers, and the writing is brimming with vivid detail. I look forward to more from this author!

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