Title: This Book Is Not Yet Rated
Author: Peter Bognanni
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 336
I don’t watch nearly as many films as I used to, but I still have a special place in my heart for them- especially ones that are considered more ‘obscure’ or ‘weird.’ When I learned this book was all about movie fandom, I knew I needed to at least give it a try and I’m glad I did.
This Book Is Not Yet Rated is about a boy named Ethan who’s kind of shut down with his life, focusing on his job at a falling-down art house theater and watching movies in his room. Still grieving the sudden death of his father, Ethan honors his dad’s memory as a professor in film studies and huge movie nerd by having his entire life revolve around the movies he watches. Then two things happen that change everything- his childhood best friend Raina comes back home for the first time in years and his movie theater is shut down and scheduled for demolition.
Raina became a popular actress after she walked out of Ethan’s life but her mom and her fans put so much pressure on her she’s started to hate acting and being the center of everyone’s attention. Ethan is in love with her but he’s pretty sure it’s unrequited, and Raina and Ethan along with a group of oddball movie theater employees aren’t going to let the place Ethan’s dad loved get shut down without a fight. It’s clear from the beginning that Ethan’s movie theater needs to go. It’s a shithole crawling with rodents and filled to the brim with dry rot and asbestos. It’s honestly a little bit annoying hearing Ethan and his friends talk about how the people who want to demolish the building are evil capitalists while at the same time we get descriptions of how disgusting and unsanitary it is.
I totally understand how important the place was to his dad and of course it’s going to be important to Ethan too but wouldn’t he understand the risk of communicable diseases in a movie theater where rats are eating all the candy? Ethan’s weird movie theater friends include a pothead, a ‘pretentious’ film buff, a woman who lives in the theater who they call the ‘oracle,’ and a bad-tempered old woman who chain-smokes and rides a scooter. And sure, maybe these characters are a little too quirky but they’re entertaining, too.
The only thing they seem to have in common is that they love movies but I enjoyed seeing their rapport with each other. Ethan is a likable character and I loved all his versatile film references. He’s very respectful and caring towards Raina and I liked that the romantic element of their relationship was mostly ambiguous. I recommend this book to people who love movies and especially people who have used movies to escape their disappointing realities.