The Stand-In

The Stand-In

By:  Steve Bloom

$13.99 Paperback
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

7.5 X 5.1 in
360 pg

YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Romance / Romantic Comedy
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Class Differences
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Class Differences

"A pity date with a friend's rich cousin leads high school senior Brooks Rattigan into a lucrative line of work, escorting young women to formal events. His clients are generally high-society nerds and social outcasts, a stark reminder of Brooks's blue-collar New Jersey upbringing and the future at Columbia University he's desperate to secure. In his debut novel, screenwriter Bloom gives Brooks a strikingly irreverent narrative voice, weaving a tale built around standard rom-com moments. As a classic antihero, Brooks proves himself to be shallow and deceptive time and again. His infatuation with gorgeous Shelby Pace is the stuff of teenage fantasies, but he's at his best with faux-date Celia Lieberman, who storms into his life like a cyclone. 'Pretend you like me!' she pleads, worried her classmates will find out the truth about her date with Brooks. 'I can't!' he protests. 'It's beyond my range!' Heightened antics abound, but the jokes begin to languish as Bloom ticks off familiar boxes, including a makeover for Celia and a final scene of prom-night dance-floor harmony."—Publishers WeeklyJournal

"Brooks dreams the impossible dream: make it out of Jersey and into Columbia University, and then somehow afford tuition as the only son of a comic-book collecting, perpetually stoned mail carrier. He realizes his weekend job at a sub shop with his buddy Murph won't cut it, but then stumbles into something much more lucrative as a hired date for the daughters of social climbing, overinvolved, wealthy helicopter parents. Brooks works his charming smile and suave dance moves into a five-figure savings account while alienating his old friends, deceiving his new ones, and getting way too wrapped up with an intolerable client who is almost a knockout. Ultimately he grapples with the question: in this race for social, academic, and economic achievement, who's been exploiting whom and at what real cost? The breakneck pace and snappy writing keeps this humorous caper moving; the 'regular guy' perspective on the lives of the rich and privileged frames the story well, and the sometimes crass but good-hearted hero at its center is worth rooting for."—BooklistWebsite

"Brooks Rattigan has a plan: do everything in his power to get into Columbia University and out of Pritchard, NJ. When Brooks overhears a classmate trying to find a date for his cousin to homecoming, he offers to take her and becomes The Stand-In. He quits his job at the local sub shop, and what started out as a onetime gesture of goodwill becomes a lucrative business. The teen spends his weekends taking girls to their dances and parties in an attempt to make them feel special and build his college fund. Will Brooks be able to handle college applications, a stoner dad, a slacker best friend, difficult clients, and the girl of his dreams? This tale will resonate with young adults looking for a unique coming-of-age story. The interactions between Brooks and his dates provide humor, hope, and a bit of romance. Plotlines about relationships with parents and friends offer additional depth to the narrative. Some of the threads are resolved a little too neatly and easily. Frequent drug use, language, and sexual content make this a book more suited for older teens. VERDICT: A purchase for libraries where realistic fiction and coming-of-age titles are in demand."—School Library JournalJournal

"Brooks Rattigan has one goal in mind: get in to Columbia. He knows it is a long shot; his verbal SAT score could use a serious boost, he does not have much in the way of extracurriculars, and he comes from Pritchard, New Jersey, with a no-good, dope-smoking dad. Despite knowing the odds are not in his favor, Brooks is willing to do whatever it takes to make Columbia happen, and step one is finding a job that is better than working at the town's sandwich with his best friend Murf. So begins Brooks's lucrative position as 'the stand-in.' After offering to go to a winter formal with the wealthy cousin of a classmate, the calls start pouring in with offers to attend dances and parties with other wealthy socialites who, for one reason or another, are unable to secure a date on their own. Brooks is a natural, and before he knows it, every weekend is booked with an event to attend. All the while, he is focused on raising his SAT scores and obsessing over his looming Columbia application. Will Columbia be in his future? Will he draw a line about what he is willing to do for a quick buck?

The Stand-In has humor, romance, and a definite dose of fun, and is a good choice for reluctant readers willing to deal with the SAT vocabulary thrown in throughout the story. Brooks is not the most likeable character, but he is a male protagonist in a semi-romantic young adult title, which is not a common thing. Beyond that, the story itself feels a bit flat, plodding along from dance to dance. The story contains foul language, drug use, underage drinking, and descriptive sexual encounters. This is recommended for libraries looking for books that will appeal to those who want both an easy and a fun read, and, perhaps, those looking for a male lead in a romance."—VOYAJournal

The inspiration for the Netflix original film, The Perfect Date!

When Brooks volunteered to be a stand-in for Burdette's cousin who got stood up for Homecoming, it was with the noblest of intentions—helping a fellow human being, free of charge. But when he gets a tip of more than three hundred bucks, word spreads quickly and Brooks seizes the opportunity to offer his impeccable escort services to super-wealthy parents who want their daughters to experience those big social events of senior year.

Besides, Brooks could use the cash to hire a tutor to get admitted to Columbia University. So what if along the way he goes along with a few minor deceptions and cuts a few moral corners? What could be the harm?

Steve Bloom has written TV and movie screenplays for more than 30 years. The Stand-In is his first novel. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and their French bulldog.