Sunday March 24

Have I Got an Idea for You: I Represent Sean Rosen by Jeff Baron

Jeff Baron has started a new literary adventure with his novel I Represent Sean Rosen. Already an accomplished and frequently produced playwright – his play Visiting Mr. Green is regularly staged around the world – Baron shows in his first novel the keen ear of a playwright, one perfectly attuned to his character’s voice.

And what a voice it is. Sean Rosen, the first-person narrator, is a thirteen-year-old aspiring writer/screenwriter and idea man – he has come up with a concept that will revolutionize the entertainment industry – but first he has to be heard. This is not an easy feat for a boy in middle school, but Sean is no ordinary boy. He is smart, endearing, and ingeniously inventive and creative, not to mention a pretty accomplished researcher and an avid reader of The Hollywood Reporter.

Not exactly a loner, Sean is choosy about who he hangs with. There are his friends, Javier, Buzz, and Ethan and, as in every middle schooler’s life, a bully, in this case named Doug. And I can’t leave out the effervescently spoiled little princess, Brianna, who appears pretty much only in texts. Yes, Sean is a part of the generation that considers cell phones, computers, and earbuds extensions of their bodies.

Sean is an intriguing mix of boy and adult, as are most boys of his age, especially in 2013. He is instinctive about his parents, whom he understands and clearly loves but not enough to confide his artistic aspirations, and he is clear-eyed about his grandparents, who play an intriguing role in the novel. More importantly, he is in the process of becoming himself, an adolescent approaching adulthood and independence who can say out loud (at least to his readers) that he likes buying his favorite ice cream with his own money.

Sean is entrepreneurial in a variety of ways, one of which is that he creates podcasts on varying themes from donuts to hair for which he interviews people. He tells us about these in the novel and readers can see and hear them at I don’t know who does Sean’s voice, but it is now the voice I hear when I think of the book: eager, funny, and maybe just a little pushy.

Baron’s fast-paced writing manages to capture not only a brilliant voice but also to convey the humor, affection, and frustration a smart and funny thirteen-year-old has for the life around him. We don’t find out what Sean’s revolutionary concept is – maybe that’s for the next book – but Sean does create a movie idea that he pitches via Skype to big studio executives with the help of his invented manager, Dan Welch. And they love it! This is every creative kid’s dream scenario in a book that will delight any teen who dares to dream big.

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