Review: This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni

Title: This Book Is Not Yet Rated
Author: Peter Bognanni
Publisher: Dial Books
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published April 2019

Summary: The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it's because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it's because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it's a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos. They say it's structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don't understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years. Now it's up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema--Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as "Wendy," the leader of these Lost Boys--to save the place they love. It's going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan's oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she's been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren't always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he's not been ready to say.

I was super excited to read this book ever since I got sent a copy in the mail in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I opened the package and saw the cover, I knew I was hooked, because I *know* we're told not to judge books by their covers, and I honestly don't, but I'll definitely admit that a gorgeous cover will entice me to pick up a book. It's hard to really show the image fully here because it's so much crisper in person, but I just really loved all of the bright colors, the candy, the popcorn, the soda, and all of those things that people typically associate with going to the movies. So yes, from the very minute I opened my package, I knew that I was excited to read this book. So I'm glad that I got the chance to sit down and crack it open, because it made for a really great read!

As the summary explains, Ethan is fighting to save his local independent movie theater, which is not only falling apart physically, but is also being sold to be turned into luxury apartments for college kids on campus. But Ethan doesn't want to let Green Street go because of more ways than one -- for starters, it's his job, and the place he spends all of his time and made all of his friends. But it's also the place he used to go every Saturday with his dad until he passed away suddenly, and he isn't ready to let go of the wonderful memories he has associated with the place. So the book follows the story of Ethan as he tries to find ways to save the theater, both for his own sake and for the legacy of his father.

This book was honestly so great! One of the things that I really liked about it was the way it was *so* dang funny all of the time. I honestly spent over half of this book just cracking up because Peter Bognanni managed to create such a realistic, sarcastic, quick-witted voice through Ethan that really connects to the reader. The fact that the audience is addressed via the second person a few times throughout the book also helps lend itself to that experience. This is the first book of Bognanni's that I've ever read, and it's safe to say that I really, really enjoyed it. I read over 160 pages in a single sitting -- about 50% of the book! -- one night just because it was so intriguing and funny that I couldn't put it down. So if you're looking for a read that captures you until the very end, I'd definitely recommend this one!

Another thing that I really appreciated about this book was the way Ethan's father is so fleshed out as a character, even though he really isn't on the page because the story starts after he has already passed. I feel like I really got to know him through the story as well, and when we went through moments where Ethan was thinking back to memories with his dad, I actually found myself really sad and missing him, too. That's not something that happens to me often when I'm reading books involving parents that have already passed before the story starts. Oftentimes they serve as a plot device -- we've all heard the joke about how YA books almost always include dead parents -- but in this case, he felt like a character himself, and I felt really in touch with him as a reader. I really enjoyed that!

My favorite character in this book was definitely Anjo, maybe tied with Sweet Lou. They were both so funny in their own unique ways, women of few words but having important things to say nonetheless. Every time they were on the page, I felt myself laughing or smiling. It was clear how much they both loved the theater and the kids that were a part of it, which is why I really just saw them as wonderful motherly and grandmotherly figures throughout the story.

The only character that I wasn't super crazy about in this book was Raina. Ethan kind of just forgives her the minute she comes home and starts acting like nothing was wrong (until she explains, of course), and he kind of just goes along with it, which was frustrating to see as a reader knowing how quickly she left him behind when she rose to fame. Just throughout the entire story I found myself not liking her very much, maybe because I didn't get to know her well so she felt kind of two-dimensional to me in a way that the other characters in the story didn't because they were always so vibrant and you got to know a lot about them. I don't know -- I'm not saying she's a bad character at all, I just didn't click with her all that much.

(Spoilers in this paragraph, skip to the next one to avoid them!) Something else that I really appreciated about this book was actually the way it ended. I really liked their little pop-up film festival idea, which was fun and uplifting, but I also really appreciated the fact that Green Street didn't end up being saved, as sad as that sounds. It was a really realistic portrayal of how the real estate and capitalism business sadly works, but instead of being entirely depressing, I like how it left on an uplifting note because they got to go out with a bang and then turned away while the marquis was still standing. I just thought it was really symbolic and hopeful, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring a few tears to my eye.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading This Book Is Not Yet Rated. If you're a big film buff that is also into nostalgia and laugh-out-loud humor, then I would absolutely recommend picking up this book. I'll definitely be reading more of Peter Bognanni's work in the future, because that was such an enjoyable read! Thank you so much to Penguin for sending me a copy to review. :-)

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