Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
A small group of teens, a school teacher, and a TV producer shake the foundations of the corporate world in LIKE WE CARE, the debut novel from screenwriter Tom Matthews. What begins as a small protest between friends and hangers-on snowballs into a cross-country, grass roots protest movement with more at stake than mere dollars. With witty dialogue and perfect comedic timing, LIKE WE CARE is that rare adult novel that is not only suitable for teens but is highly recommended.
Joel and Todd were best friends growing up but grew apart with the onset of adolescence -- and Joel's ascendance to the role of alpha-male jock on campus. But after a severe injury in a baseball game, they renew their friendship. As a result, Todd helps Joel take a closer look at his inane lifestyle and his sheep-like followers, particularly concerning their smoking and spending habits. As Joel fully understands how badly the local convenience store - and the advertising world in general - is manipulating him and his peers for their money, he uses his charisma to organize a boycott. Eventually, the protest garners the attention of a TV executive desperate for stories of substance for R2Rev, the music video channel in which she works. Joel's charisma and Todd's message soon resonates across America, influencing impromptu boycotts and small-town elections. But the movement begins to unravel on all fronts as they grow in fame and success and their opponents begin to see what's at stake. Yet Todd refuses to surrender and has a few tricks up his sleeve that provides for a sweet victory when defeat looks certain.
Although satirical in many facets, LIKE WE CARE rings true on all fronts: the high school cliques, the fan-bashing rap stars, the exploitative TV executives, and the price-gouging store owners. This is laugh-out-loud funny but also inspiring.