We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Reviews of The Gospel According To Larry by Janet Tashjian

The Gospel According To Larry

by Janet Tashjian

The Gospel According To Larry by Janet Tashjian X
The Gospel According To Larry by Janet Tashjian
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 227 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2003, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A funny, thoughtful novel that takes on some sophisticated issues such as celebrity worship, consumerism and the way multinational corporations shape our lives. Ages 12-up.

Josh Swensen is not your average 17-year-old. At the age of two, he was figuring out algebraic equations with colored magnetic numbers. He is a prodigy who only wants to make the world a better place. Josh’s wish comes true when his virtual alter ego, Larry, becomes a huge media sensation. Larry has his own Web site where he posts sermons on anti-consumerism and has a large following of adults and teens. Meanwhile, Larry’s identity is a mystery to everyone. While it seems as if the whole world is trying to figure out Larry’s true identity, Josh feels trapped inside his own creation. What will happen to the world, and to Larry, if he is exposed?

Part One

"I haven’t enjoyed a rant this much since Thoreau," Beth said. "We need people stirring up the way we think about things."

My best friend, Beth, was trying to talk me into forming a Larry study group with her. His Web site - www.thegospelaccordingtolarry.com - received hundreds of hits a day, mostly from teens and college students. No one knew Larry’s identity, and that conjecture alone was the source of several companion Web sites. Many kids at school were fans, but Beth was rabid.

"Josh, I know neither one of us has ever joined a club in our life," she said. "But that’s precisely why we should."

I tried to listen to the details of her story, I really did, but there is something about Beth’s mouth that gets in the way of paying attention to its contents. She often wore a certain brown lipstick and outlined the edges of her lips with this pencil she carried in her bag. Every time she talked, it was like this pale chocolate snowcone staring up at ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. In his quest to be antimaterialistic, Josh has just seventy-five possessions, including shirts, shoes, keys, books, CDs, and underwear. If you had to limit the things you own to seventy-five items, what would they be?

  2. Josh states, “I've only wanted one thing in my life–to contribute, to help make the world a better place . . . not with technology, but with ideas.” Is Josh true to his vision?

  3. Is the way Josh/Larry manipulates his followers any different from the way the media, big business, or politicians manipulate the public?

  4. Josh steals confidential documents from Peter’s briefcase in order to attack the companies his stepfather represents. Is he right to do this? Does the end justify the means...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
The framing device, in which the writer pretends that Josh gave her the text, is unnecessary, but aside from that this is an outstanding YA novel. Tashjian, the author of Tru Confessions and Multiple Choice, has penned a real winner here. —Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students.

VOYA - Lynn Evarts
This story will speak clearly to many teens looking to create their own place in the world—those who have not been able to make their mark as jocks or cheerleaders or even geeks in the rough world of high school cliques. Josh's rocket to anonymous fame is a fantasy for many teens today. Tashjian skillfully uses humor and provides one of the most honest voices in young adult literature since Steve York in Rob Thomas's Rats Saw God ...Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses. Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12.

Booklist - Ilene Cooper
Starred Review. Gr. 7-10. Tashjian does something very fresh here, which will hit teens at a visceral level. She takes the natural idealism young people feel, personalizes it in the character of Josh/Larry, and shows that idealism transformed by unintended consequences. The book's frank discussion about topics paramount to kids--celebrity worship, consumerism, and the way multinational corporations shape our lives--is immediate, insightful, and made even more vivid because it's wrapped in the mystery of Larry.

Kirkus Reviews
Tashjian's inventive story is a thrilling read, fast-paced with much fast food for thought about our consumer-oriented pop culture. A parallel narrative about Beth, Josh's childhood friend and secret love, works nicely, too. The voice is clear, the ending satisfying. Teenagers will eat this one up.

School Library Journal - Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Gr 8 Up. Josh is bright, articulate, idealistic, and in love with Beth, the girl next door and his best friend since sixth grade. Afraid to declare himself-especially in light of Beth's flirtations with a socially connected but intellectually suspect football player-he pours his energy into a clever Web site, through which his alter ego, Larry, advocates introspection, tolerance, and anticonsumerism....A terrific read with a credible and lovable main character.

Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
The plot sometimes walks just this side of absurdity, and some figures (like Josh's advertising executive stepfather) are conveniences rather than developed characters. However, Josh's story, and particularly Larry's sermons, are excellent starting points for discussion, and may even inspire teens on their own path to political activism.

Publishers Weekly
[This] funny, thoughtful novel takes on some sophisticated issues.... Tashjian not only gives readers a good primer on materialism (and Thoreau), she also makes them think about a different kind of activism. Ages 12-up.

Reader Reviews

matt

Is it real?
I really liked the book, and read it a second time for school, but I really wonder if the whole thing about it being real is a hoax. If so, it was a well done one, i went on thegospelaccordingtolarry.com the other day for school research and found a...   Read More
cody

the gospel according to larry
What I want to know is were these events true, I've been to the web site but I think it would be hard to pull this whole thing to be fake so I think it is based on a real story.
Flor

is it a true story or not?
I think this book is awesome, but I don't understand if it is true or not, the author says that Josh himself gave her the story to write but maybe she just made that up. I loved the book though, I found it very interesting. I am 14 years old going to...   Read More
Joanna

Just read this...
I just read this book and I must say that I was gripped. It was extremely well written in quite a quirky style and I enjoyed every moment of it - but I did find the ending very anti-climatic. I, too, am confused as to whether it was non-fiction or...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Gospel According To Larry, try these:

  • Taken jacket

    Taken

    by Edward Bloor

    Published 2009

    About this book

    More by this author

    By 2035 the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and kidnapping has become a major growth industry in the United States. The children of privilege live in secure, gated communities and are escorted to and from school by armed guards. But the security around Charity Meyers has broken down...

  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks jacket

    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

    by E Lockhart

    Published 2009

    About this book

    More by this author

    Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer and possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way.

We have 6 read-alikes for The Gospel According To Larry, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Janet Tashjian
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ascent
    The Ascent
    by Adam Plantinga
    Adam Plantinga's brilliant debut novel, The Ascent, introduces readers to former Detroit police ...
  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.