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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The idea that normal is boring is taken to a whole new level in The High Fiving Awesomers: A Vendetta Against High Fives and Awesome by Matthew Barkevich. This is the story of one terminal case named R. W. McGurski. Manifesting signs of autism and ADHD, McGurski ventures into the world with his quirks that don’t fit the normal patterns. He has a thing against phrases like 'good job' and 'awesome,' and you are likely to fall flat if you ask him for a high five. His oddity draws the attention of a rehabilitation center in Santa Barbara. This center has been embraced as a miracle worker or a cult, and they choose to pretend to be the latter. McGurski is gullible enough to be swayed into joining them in exchange for the gift of knowledge. When he finds out what the center truly stands for, he will use his smarts to convert the center into a real cult.
The High Fiving Awesomers sounds disturbing, but satirically, it succeeds in delivering its message. It doesn’t project a crusading image of opposing any system, but what it does is celebrate the strangeness that we all have. I don’t know quite how I would deal with a person like McGurski, but I do see a part of myself in him. Matthew Barkevich understands the nature of multiple disorders. When he presents his protagonist, he makes you identify with the antisocial leanings associated with those suffering from mental instability. The use of the first-person narrative further amplifies it. It’s not a feel-good story, but one that you should read to help you get out of your shell—and make you reach out in the process.