Stop Me If Youve Heard This One Before

DavidYooBookGotham teacher David Yoo's second young adult novel, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before, has just been published by Hyperion.

It’s the story of an unorthodox high school love-triangle, featuring the music of Phil Collins, a handful of seemingly magical frogs, and the Damnit Game, soon to be sweeping the nation. No less an author than Jonathan Lethem has declared, “David Yoo’s voice is so witty and charming it only seems fair to give warning: he'll break hearts of teenage readers of all ages with this bittersweet love story.”

If you’re curious, check out the opening:

Prologue: Here it is Saturday

The first time I met Mia we ended up in a hotel room by ourselves. I remember the room was blue because of the semi-closed shades. The jiggle of tea cups on a room service cart as it rolled past the door. A cliché odor of stale cigarette smoke seeping out the pores of the yellowed, beige wallpaper. Despite the perpetual thrum of the air conditioning that rattled the vanity mirror, the room felt windless, and in the bluish light I saw that she was staring at me, and I immediately looked away. This was the start of our story that I’m about to tell you—a traditional love story, in the sense that it ends badly.

It’s like a rule that love stories have to end badly, and ours is no exception. Romeo and Juliet, the most famous love story of all time, ended tragically, and their sad fate is precisely why it remains such an enduring love story, despite the fact that to the majority of people in today’s high school society it’s completely unreadable without an accompanying page-by-page Folger Shakespeare guide, but I digress.

Had the star-crossed lovers’ plan actually succeeded, they would have lived past that initial honeymoon stage and eventually felt complacent having to look at the same face for the rest of their lives. Romeo would have belatedly realized his true love for his fallen male buddy Mercutio, and experimented with sleazy local bards in effort to quell the confusing mixture of disgust and numbness he felt lying stiff in bed with Juliet each night. Juliet, meanwhile, wouldn’t even notice Romeo’s emerging gaydom because she’d be pining for the same local hipster bards (think today’s artsy fartsy acoustic guitar playing posers in the cafeteria, except with harps) as well, which means by that point what was left of their love story would have long since extinguished.

But instead, it all ended badly for them, and that’s why it’s a classic love story. It’s hard to believe their genius plan didn’t work—she willingly put herself into a medically induced coma in order to fake her own death, before being hidden in the family crypt? I mean, that’s just gangbusters. But anyhow, this story that I’m about to tell you is just like theirs, except in my version Juliet screws over Romeo and doesn’t off herself, and instead she ends up with another guy and lives happily ever after, while Romeo is crushed and goes a little crazy and ends up dying completely alone, of a broken heart.

Maybe this isn’t even a love story at all. You know that famous question: If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, by that rationale, a similar question can be applied to my story: If a guy falls down in the woods and the girl he’s deeply in love with doesn’t hear it, did he make a sound—and more importantly, would she have given two shits had she heard him? The point being, it’s hard to classify a story as a love story once the actual ‘love’ aspect of it no longer exists, and I know now that while my flame for her still burned Bunsen blue inside me, hers had long since snuffed out, but ultimately—debating whether this is a valid love story is irrelevant, really, because all I know is that this is my story, and my story is of my love for Mia, and that’s all that matters. Thousands of other things have happened to me in my lifetime, but they’re at this point totally insignificant, because what other story is there to tell once you fall in love for the first time?


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