Phoenix Author Tom Leveen Creates an Authentic, Complicated Story of Adolescence in 'manicpixiedreamgirl'

Categories: Literary, Reviews

Native Arizonan Tom Leveen, who lives and works in Phoenix, is a YA fiction machine and the author of "Party" and "Zero." His third novel, "manicpixiedreamgirl," came out earlier this month, and he's already working on numbers four and five (and maybe even beyond) right this minute. Look out this October for "Sick," Leveen's first foray into the world of horror.

Tyler Darcy finds himself on the horns of a dilemma, high-school style. He's been crushing hard on mystery girl Rebecca Webb since freshman year, but he's also been going out with the eminently likable Sydney Barret (yes, that's Syd Barrett) for about the same amount of time -- someone who supports him and likes his writing and fools around with him.

See also:
- Phoenix Author Tom Leveen Returns with Young Adult Novel Zero
- Author Adam Johnson on Phoenix, North Korea, and His Latest Novel, The Orphan Master's Son

On the night that Tom Leveen's "manicpixiedreamgirl" opens, things have finally come to a head. Tyler is in the park drinking with his two best friends -- Robby and Justin, who provide wise counsel mostly in the form of crude jokes -- to celebrate the publication of a short story Tyler wrote. The thing is, the story is about a girl, and it's not Sydney, something that is abundantly clear to Sydney as soon as she gets her hands on a copy of the magazine.

In the course of the novel, which technically takes place in one night, we get the full story through flashbacks -- how Tyler and Sydney fell into a relationship, how Tyler nursed his crush on Becky from afar nevertheless and then, eventually, became friends with her.

And on the night in question, Tyler is fielding phone calls and texts from both Sydney and Becky, and trying to figure out where he stands. Becky is troubled, and needs him, but Syd is the girl who's been there for him all along. Is Becky just a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl -- "the adorably eccentric sweetheart who dazzles a broody male lead," as Syd puts it -- or is there something more to Tyler's feelings for her?

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