I read this book some ten years ago or so for my middle school class. I remembered reading it, but the ending was vague up until a certain point when it all came crashing into me. Reading it now, all these years later, for the second time... was more pure and painful a torture than the one I called this book when I said it was "boring and dull" for class; "pointless," "torturous," and what have you. No... this time around, I read it not remembering much of anything until I was almost at the end and it hit me so sharply that it was like a slap to the face.
This book hurts. At first it was wonderful, it made me smile, it gave off a flirty, youthful enjoyment. And then it became twisted and horrible in a demeaning, small, selfish and stupidly cruel way. But even when all that seemed to heal over-- slowly, slowly-- during the slow pacing of the parts afterwards... none of these feelings could compare to what was coming when that signal, that fatal foreshadowing moment Number Two that no one would but vaguely guess at unless they had read the book before came up-- and it hit me so full in the face it was like I'd been hit with a freight train.
And then I had to sit there and endure, and endure, until that moment when it came... and I broke down crying because it was too painful. The leading up to it, the happening, the way Phineas walked out... it broke my heart. And then it dove so sharply I had nothing left but this wrenching, horrible sorrow. --God, I'm crying again.
And you might call me a sap for it: say what you will. But this book is wonderful in the most painful of ways. I want to give it five stars because it hurts you so perfectly that it'll leave you miserable afterwards. It'll steal the breath from you like a strangling wind, and you'll be left choking on words you can't muster. It is a great book... but it's great in the most horrible of ways.
I gave it four stars alone because Gene pisses me off so badly that I can't forgive him. But I feel like, for Phineas's sake, I should give it five stars alone.
Because Phineas is what makes this book. It's him that I cry for. And it's his character that is so tragic that I know I'll cry for him no matter how many times I have to go through this again.
I don't regret reading this book again, and I definitely recommend it to anyone. I know a lot of times we groan at the books teachers give us in school, and while I may hate some parts of the duration, while the message may hurt in getting it across, while it's horrible to face-- it's still a good, good book. If only for the horror and mortification alone.
Read this one when you get a chance. Libraries and used book stores are sure to have it. Just prepare yourself-- though I don't know if you can-- because this is going to hurt.