“The Tribulations of August Barton” is a sweet, kind of coming-of-age novella. Except it aims to show how the college experience has helped Augie find his voice, and with the help of his ex-prostitute grandma, Gertie, get a hold of his anxiety during a period of change. Augie may not have ventured very far to go to college (hey I didn’t, either) but it’s not about the distance. It’s about putting yourself in new situations and meeting new people, broadening your horizons in every sense of the word, and Augie definitely does that! Everything from his first time getting drunk, to falling in love, to even streaking in freezing temperatures, August finds his footing more than most in college. But throughout all of Augie’s adventures, there is this undercurrent of appreciating your elders, and spending time and enjoying the elderly while we have access to them that I found to be quite beautiful.
I really enjoyed August and his interactions with his grandma, the true love and appreciation they have for one another despite his mother’s tense relationship with Gertie. I loved how Gertie’s positive influence—even with her colorful past—really inspired Augie to do more for elderly care, and I loved how he didn’t shy away from volunteering or making any of these elders smile while they sat forgotten in a nursing home. It was a truly lovely message. Gertie is a lot of fun, even if I found her antics a little too second-hand embarrassing for my tastes (seriously, I have a big problem with second-hand embarrassing things, it’s why I can’t watch The Office). Sometimes that created a disconnect for me, but that’s mainly because Augie’s college experience doesn’t look like mine at all, which is fine! But just know that going in, you’ll have more fun with Gertie’s antics that way.
All in all, this was a very sweet and funny novella staring a young man who handles his anxiety wonderfully. I think a lot of people will resonate with that, plus it’s shown in such a normalized and positive light to where it didn’t come across as a cheap trope at all. So well done to LeBlanc for that! I think my only complaint is that I wanted more relationship building from the other characters—Isaac, Rose, and Tunes in particular. I wanted to see more of their friendship in action so I could really feel connected to them, which is why I’m giving this 4 stars. But this is a novella, so light and fast relationship building (outside of Augie and his grandma, of course) is to be expected. If you are looking for a fun, totally fluffy, new adult read that you can knock out over a lazy weekend, then come meet Augie! And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!
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