Rating: 5 stars
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Length: Novel

Today I’d like to introduce you to the best book in the history in the world. Better than the classics? Fo shizzy. Better than The Bible? Duh. I may be prone to a wee bit of hyperbole, but I can definitely say that this book makes me laugh out loud in that way that you want to read it by yourself rather than sitting on a park bench during your lunch break where you could get mistaken for a crazy homeless person and dragged to the pokey. Do we call it the pokey? Anyway, it’s real damn funny. Maybe in a “people aren’t really that clever” kind of a way, but that works for me. It’s the same reason that I watched Gilmore Girls for 17 seasons. No one talks that fast or engages in such constant witty banter. No one thinks douchey Milo Ventimiglia is better looking than dreamy Jared “Supernatural” Padalecki either, but now I’ve gotten completely off track. Please read Know Not Why: A Novel. In fact, I do know why and I’m going to tell you! (And I thought I wasn’t that clever. I so am.)

Howie is a 22-year-old man at a bit of a crossroads. He had plans for his future, and then said plans were put on hold indefinitely when his father died and he stayed at home to help out his mom. Since he’s a bit of loser, he comes up with a brilliant sure-fire get laid plan. In order to fulfill this woefully misguided plan of meeting a lot of girls and having a lot of sex, he applies for a job at Artie Craft’s Arts n’ Crafts, where surely a lot of good-looking, desperate girls will fall at his feet. Immediately upon arriving for his interview, he meets dumb but gorgeous Kristy (score!), and not dumb and not female Artie, who would be his new boss.

Instead of providing a life of debauchery, as he anticipated, he meets people who change his life forever. He becomes entrenched in the heart of the struggling craft store, which is being swiftly overtaken by a mega craft store that just moved in. He builds a strong friendship with wholesome Kristy and punky wild-child Cora and starts to have strange feelings for Artie, whom surely he hates. This book, at it’s essence, is about the dynamics of one’s relationships. Howie finds a new honesty with his wickedly hilarious mother and builds a bond with his brother’s weird, socially-challenged girlfriend. With a large cast of characters, including his new coworkers Kristy, Cora, and Arthur and his already best friends Amber and Mitch, Howie evolves from the selfish, totally clueless kid to a loving and lovable man.

Hannah Johnson has a knack for creating immensely likable characters. Howie is my man. He is so genuinely unaware of the world around him that, when he begins to question his sexuality, he jumps in with both feet, consequences be damned. There’s no posturing about the cosmic significance of being gay. He struggles with coming out to friends and family, but the manner he himself deals with it has an innocence and earnestness that I loved. Both Howie and Arthur are swoon-worthy romantic, if somewhat unconventional. Take this scene:

“Um,” Arthur says. He’s looking at me dead-on, like he’s forcing himself to do it. God, I wish he would knock it off. I also wish he’d lose his eyelashes in a freak eyelash fire incident. And his lips, too, because all of a sudden I’m looking at them, what is that. “Yes. I thought we should discuss—”

“You mouth-mauling me?” I ask loudly, indignantly, like a tough sonuvabitch who doesn’t want to be mouth-mauled. I make myself meet his eyes. They’re green; I never paid attention before. This really light, interesting, intelligent green—

FUCK, this guy needs to STOP HAVING A FACE.

I could share quote after quote from this book, but that would make it kind of an annoying review. Just know that the masterful, hilarious, ridiculous dialogue is what makes this book so genius. It’s also sweet and romantic and light-hearted and goofy. It’s the kind of book that you will return to again and again when you need a bit of a pick-me-up. So you’re welcome. That’s for when you thank me. Because you will. And I’ll just sheepishly shake my head and insist that I don’t do this for the praise, but just for the good of humanity. And you’ll roll your eyes and know I was lying. Because that’s the kind of relationship we have.

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