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Elliot Allagash    by Simon Rich Amazon.com order for
Elliot Allagash
by Simon Rich
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Books are often used as an escape from reality, and nothing could be a better escape than Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich. This hilarious novel will have you laughing the whole way through.

Seymour Herson was never popular, so it came as no surprise to him, really, when he was pushed down the stairs. What did surprise him, though, was the fact the kid who pushed him was a brand new student at Glendale. When he told his parents, their only explanation was that Elliot Allagash was rich. Rich is actually an understatement Elliot's dad, Terry, owns more businesses than anyone can imagine. Terry has the power to stay in control of the world ... but Elliot has even more. Even in eightth grade, Elliot controls people through elaborate schemes, and Seymour becomes his pet project. By the time they reach their senior year, Seymour is at the top of his class with a bright future ahead of him, but it is a charade that he cannot keep up much longer, especially since he feels like something is missing ...

Rich uses the game Monopoly as a recurring metaphor throughout Elliot Allagash. While this does offer important life lessons, it also adds to the humor of the story. These lessons make it a great read for young adults, but I think adults will get even more joy out of Elliot Allagash. The book is basically divided into two sections: Seymour's eightth grade year and his senior year. The first section takes place in 1998 so that puts the second part in the early 2000s. This gives it an almost nostalgic feel for adult readers who have a sense of looking back on their childhood, especially if they were teens during this time. This amplifies the humor as it is easier to look back and laugh (making comparisons to your own life) while you are in the middle of living it.

Aside from being a laugh riot, Elliot Allagash is also very well-written. Rich keeps the pace moving with both realistic and eccentric characters who easily imprint themselves into the reader's brain. Seymour's adventures with Elliot are ingenious and not to be missed. Overall, Simon Rich's debut novel is one freakin' hilarious story, and I hope to see much more zany fiction from him. Elliot Allagash is a must read that cannot be put down, and quite possibly the funniest book of the year.

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