I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle is seriously the funniest book I’ve read in the last two years. During his graduation night speech, Denis Cooverman, valedictorian at Buffalo Grove High School, urges his fellow classmates to leave with no regrets for the things they wanted to say but could not. Our hero pauses for dramatic effect, and then blurts out, “I love you, Beth Cooper.” Beth — voted Most Popular and Best Looking by 513 BGHS seniors – is, predictably, a cheerleader; Denis’s team of choice is debate, and for recreation he reads the Journal of Juvenile Oncology. Graduation night heads a different direction after Denis’s memorable speech, and soon Beth and her two sidekicks are meeting up with Denis and his best friend, Rich (who likes to tell people about his “female fiancée” who works at Hooter’s). The characters and plot may be a tad predictable, but I laughed so much I’m not sure I noticed.
The author wrote for The Simpsons and Daria (as well as The New Yorker, if the first two didn’t impress you), and his debut novel is packed with lines to savor and quote, just like an episode of The Simpsons. This is total movie material in the spirit of Dazed and Confused, and it didn’t surprise me at all to see that the book was optioned and may hit the big screen in 2009 (with Chris Columbus directing/producing and Hayden Panettiere playing Beth Cooper).