Since I often feel like I’ve read the same contemporary YA books over and over again, Geoff Herbach really surprised me with Anything You Want. It isn’t your usual contemporary at all – in fact, it’s probably one of the most original YA novels in this genre that I have read in a while.
Anything You Want deals with teen pregnancy, which is something that a lot of YA novels seems to stay away from, but it’s dealt with in a way that we haven’t seen before – from the father’s point of view. This is really something, because all of the books that I have read about teen pregnancy seem to make the fathers out to be bad guys who simply want nothing to do with the baby, and they are usually told from the girl’s point of view instead. No, this book isn’t anything like that. It tells the story of a teenage boy who is absolutely in love with his girlfriend, and when he gets her pregnant, will do pretty much anything he can in order to be there for his new family.
Taco (a nickname that he received for, well, eating a lot of tacos) is in love with his girlfriend, Maggie. While her parents aren’t too thrilled with him being around her, and try to keep the two of them apart, Taco always finds a way to see her – even if it means climbing her house to meet her at her window (and falling off and breaking his tailbone). Maggie is a cheerleader – preppy, happy, and full of life, and Taco adores her. When they start having sex, they end up doing it a lot – and Maggie finds herself pregnant. Taco is simply overjoyed with the news – he can’t wait to have his own little family, and he even wants to marry Maggie. Unfortunately, her parents will never let that happen, and when they find out about the baby, they try their hardest to convince her to give it up for adoption.
Taco’s family is a little bit different than Maggie’s – Taco lives with his older brother, who deals with alcohol addiction and doesn’t often do the right thing – he even goes to jail for an alcohol related incident, but he does his best at supporting Taco – never making him get a job, so he can enjoy his teenage years, which is what their mother made them promise before she died. Taco’s father lives out of state and doesn’t come home often or even send them money to live on, causing a lot of stress and tension for both Taco and his brother.
So the big question comes up – how exactly does Taco plan on supporting a family? Especially with school, the school musical, sports, and an unpaid internship that he has to fulfill…it doesn’t leave him much time for a job. But Taco is ready to do whatever he can to support them.
I liked Taco’s character – he was definitely interesting (okay, maybe a little weird…I mean, it took him forever to understand that Maggie was pregnant, even with all the signs – in fact, his brother had to tell him), and I admired the fact that he was doing everything that he could to take care of Maggie and their baby. Speaking of Maggie, I really didn’t feel too much either way for her character – I did think she was a little pushy and mean (even before she got pregnant), and I guess I just didn’t click with her.
Anything You Want not only was a great read, it was like a breath of fresh air for the YA contemporary genre. It wasn’t the same story, told over and over again, just with a new cover. It doesn’t come across as a kind of a lecture or a lesson – instead it’s (for the most part) a light, happy book that will definitely make you smile. It was different, it was witty, and it was a fantastic read that really makes you understand the value of family.