Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fiction Review: I Love You, Beth Cooper

I laughed all the way up the New Jersey Turnpike last week (an unusual occurrence!), thanks to the hilarious audio book, I Love You, Beth Cooper, by Larry Doyle. The book is read by Paul Rust, who also plays the role of the main character in the movie that was released in July.

Most people are already familiar with the basic plot from the endless TV commercials for the movie. Denis Cooverman, valedictorian of his high school class and captain of the debate team, stuns his classmates and their guests when he announces during his valedictorian address that he is in love with the ultra-popular head cheerleader, Beth Cooper. Denis has sat behind Beth in almost every class but has never actually spoken to her (except to lend a pencil once), and Beth is barely even aware of who Denis is.

The book takes place during the rest of graduation day and into the night. Denis and his best friend, Rich Munsch, hope Beth and her friends will stop by for Denis’ graduation party (a sad affair consisting of snacks and just two guests – Denis and Rich), but they don’t count on Beth’s menacing boyfriend, Kevin, who’s on leave from the Army to attend Beth’s graduation. What ensues is, as you might imagine, silly, outrageous, and farcical…and also very, very funny!

Listening to this book brought back memories of all those John Hughes’ high school movies of the 80’s, like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. All the classic stereotypes are there – the geeky guy who lusts after the popular girl, the quirky best friend who’s not sure whether or not he’s gay, the jealous boyfriend whose neck is larger than his IQ. And of course, there’s the huge, out-of-control party at the rich kid’s house whose parents are out of town and a few car chases, just for fun. The book is filled with alcohol, drugs, sex, and cursing, so you might want to skip this one if you’re easily offended.

By now, you’re probably thinking this book sounds silly and a bit trite. Apparently, that’s what most critics thought of the movie version (I haven’t seen it). I don’t usually go for those types of silly comedies, but I found this book absolutely hilarious. Doyle’s writing is clever and sharp (he’s written for The Simpsons), and his liberal use of movie quotes and pop-culture references adds to the fun. My face hurt from smiling so much by the time I’d finished, and I got plenty of strange looks for laughing hysterically all alone in my car. It was a wonderfully entertaining way to while away a tedious drive.


Listen to a sample of the audio book.


  1. Thanks for the tip on funny audio book; i read/listen to a lot of them. Have you ever tried David Sedaris? Very funny

  2. Hi, Diane -

    David Sedaris is GREAT on audio! Also very funny (and sometimes sad or touching as well). I loved Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.