I picked up Cusick’s Girl Parts at a recent writer’s conference where he was faculty, and taking pitches. He was also assigned to my lunch table one day, and he’s a really nice guy. But none of those are the reasons I picked up his debut YA novel. I just thought it would be interesting. I looked around for him on the last day of the conference to get an autograph, but every time he was chatting with people, and I didn’t want to disturb them, so no autograph for me. I got started on the book about a week ago, and finished it in four days. It was amazing. Easily the best book I’ve read so far this year.
The premise: A very wealthy boy is diagnosed by a seedy school psychiatrist with disconnectivity issues to other people. The treatment is a high-tech girl robot custom made to suit his tastes, who’s supposed to teach him how to connect with other humans, and who gives him a shock if he gets too intimate too quickly. The problem is, they (boy and bot) think that eventually they’ll be able to get really intimate, and when it’s clear that won’t happen, their relationship falls apart. Enter a second boy, equally disconnected, but a complete opposite to the boy with the girl-bot. The rejected girl bot finds that maybe he is precisely what she needs even though she’s not programmed for him. Do both the boys get the help that they need from this high-tech tool? That’s the interesting part.
The nitty-gritty: The characters of David (the rich kid), Charlie (the poor, nice guy), and Rose (the girl-bot) are amazingly well drawn. They’re real. No doubt about it. This happened somewhere, and Cusick just sat around and recorded it all. It’s rare that I’ve read characters that are so well-evoked. Language, mannerisms, everything. As a reader, you’re invested in these characters. Then, the premise is unique and riveting. You have no idea where he’s going or what is going to happen next. No cliches here.
So, I suggest you pick up this book as soon as you can, and read it. It’s a fantastic story, and if you’re a writer, it’s a huge lesson in how to do everything right.