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Gospel According to Larry #1

The Gospel According to Larry

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Josh Swenson is not your average seventeen-year-old. At the age of two, he was figuring out algebraic equations with colored magnetic numbers. He is a prodigy who had always enjoyed learning. And he's only wanted one thing his entire life-to contribute and make the world a better place.
Josh's wish comes true when his virtual alter ego, Larry, becomes a huge media sensation. Larry has his own Web site, where he posts sermons on anticonsumerism and has a large following of adults and teens. Meanwhile, Larry's identity is a mystery to everyone, including Josh's best friend, Beth, whom he has been in love with for years
While it seems as if the whole world is trying to figure out Larry's true identity, Josh feels trapped inside his own creation. What will happen to the world, and to Larry, if he is exposed?

219 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 1, 2001

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About the author

Janet Tashjian

47 books250 followers
Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who’s been writing books for children for fifteen years. Her first novel Tru Confessions was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. The Gospel According to Larry is a cult favorite and Fault Line is taught in many middle and high schools. Her novels My Life As a Book, My Life As a Stuntboy, and My Life As a Cartoonist are all illustrated by her teenage son, Jake. Their collaboration continues with Einstein the Class Hamster coming in August.

Janet lives with her family in Los Angeles, enjoying her respite from the long Boston winters. When she isn’t writing, she’s rewriting.

Janet has been doing school visits for fifteen years; you can email her at spatulaproductions@mac.com for details.

We invite you to follow her on Twitter @JanetTashjian and like her books on Facebook:

Plus, check out her YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/janettash...

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5 stars
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2 stars
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127 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 384 reviews
Profile Image for Jackie "the Librarian".
882 reviews271 followers
August 27, 2008
The kids in my teen book group loved this, it really captured their imaginations. Josh is a high school kid posting editorials under the guise of his alterego, Larry. Josh loves to hike and spend days outdoors alone. His favorite book is Walden. He rails against consumerism and our shallow infotainment culture, and finds himself a cult hit in his high school.

He teases his readers with clues to his identity. For example, he keeps his possessions at 75 items, so if he gets something new, he has to get rid of something old, and every month (week? can't remember) he posts a photo of a possession. (My teen group tried to imagine limiting their own possessions this way, and shuddered!)

Then, "Larry's" website's popularity goes viral, and everyone wants to know who Larry really is, when all Josh wants is to be his best friend Beth's boyfriend.

How long can he keep his identity a secret? And what will Beth think when she finds out he's Larry?
Profile Image for Isaac.
7 reviews1 follower
October 22, 2008
I think my life would have better if I had gone to bed at a normal hour. But I stayed up to read this instead (on the recommendation of my sister-in-law, who also recommended Twilight—strike two, she's out). I guess this book is supposed to facilitate discussion of important issues among teens or some other trite thing, but I found it insulting. Is this what we think The Youth can handle? Is this what we think of their intellectual capacity? Are they really that stupid?

It's not just that the "issues" were glossed over non-issues from 1999, and not just that the book was full of hypocrisy from front to back (and not the intended kind that would supposedly foster "dialogue"), but it was just plain old poorly written and boring.

Oh dude, like the world sucks because of like, everyone drinking Coke and stuff, and like, no one cares about not caring about stuff, so I wish everyone could just be free and stuff like Thoreau, and stop buying stuff, and maybe stuff should just be free anyway, right?
Profile Image for Jennie.
649 reviews45 followers
December 20, 2007
Initially I was amused by the layout of the book- the typewritten manuscript, the pictures and the wrap around story. Tashjian sells a convincing tale with these elements. However, I was rather dissapointed in the ending. Also I felt Josh’s rants were too unoriginal to fuel the amount of fame and hype that he received from his website.

Most teenagers would probably enjoy Josh’s story. Also the dark side of Internet fame is a modern reality. The book’s strongest message regards the repercussions of placing information on the Internet.
Profile Image for Saleh MoonWalker.
1,801 reviews275 followers
December 6, 2017
Onvan : The Gospel According to Larry (Gospel According to Larry, #1) - Nevisande : Janet Tashjian - ISBN : 141318341 - ISBN13 : 9780141318349 - Dar 240 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2001
September 26, 2016
An exhilarating story, bombarded with twists and turns. As the plot develops you begin to ask questions about yourself... A must read for anyone who enjoys a modern story about teenage years.
Profile Image for Mr.G.
75 reviews2 followers
September 28, 2007
Josh Swensen starts a blog called "the Gospel According to Larry" in which he shares his thoughts about high school, relationships, commercials, and God. His website rapidly becomes the most popular at his school, in his city, and in the world. Bands like U2 participate in "Larryfest", politicians opine on it, cable news shows debate it, and the true identity of Larry becomes the obsession of people everywhere.
How will the world react when Josh's secret gets out. And more importantly, how will his friend/crush Beth?
Profile Image for Marshall.
5 reviews
September 28, 2016
To be completely honest I found that the book was an outstanding example of how the media warps anything into a drama story to put on the front page of all the magazines and advertisements. I especially liked the part where he psuedocides and pretends to be a different guy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lucas.
3 reviews
October 12, 2016
I liked the story a bit but I feel the book was very predictable in the sense of you knew what was going to happen in the end from the very beginning. It was overall boring but I think that the story has great potential
10 reviews
September 26, 2016
Warning Spoilers!!: I felt the beginning of the book was confusing and a bit boring, and the story was pretty predictable, but I like the part where he fakes his death.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alicia.
6,212 reviews124 followers
June 24, 2015
This book is hysterical and I think kids would get a kick out if, especially since the world revolves around the Internet. Larry creates a character which people stand up and listen to, create music fests for, and always want to listen to-- his message is going to change the way commercialism is seen. But, when he gets caught, does his stepfather feel like he's done the right thing?
Profile Image for Gabrielle Prendergast.
Author 19 books446 followers
May 24, 2012
My only complaint about this very fast and fun read was the conceit of the author that this was "a true story", a published manuscript of Josh's hand typed autobiography that he handed to her in a grocery store. That added nothing to what was otherwise a very cleverly written tale.

3 reviews1 follower
January 30, 2017
The Gospel According to Larry, written by Janet Tashjian, is a book about a boy, Josh Swenson, with a blog and a mind to change the world. The point of view is from the eyes of Josh, so everything is straightforward. This author writes the book in a colloquial form and focuses on Josh’s day to day activities. This book is very well written and perfect for younger teenagers.
The Gospel according to Larry is a book about Josh Swenson, a teenage boy. Josh goes by the screen name of Larry on his internet blog, and no one knows his true identity. His blog was made up of pictures of his items with descriptions of why he bought them and why he keeps them. Josh owns only seventy-five items, and he shares them with the internet. All of Larry’s ideas support anti-consumerism and anti-commercialism because he believes telemarketers get too much into consumer’s heads. He also thinks that people do not need a lot of material items in order to be happy. Some people do not support his opinions, though. A lady by the screen name of betagold has made it her life goal to expose Larry and destroy his blog. Betagold is one of a few of the people who enjoy hating on Larry’s blog. For the people that approve and enjoy of what Josh says on his blog, they continue to encourage Larry’s sermons. After some time, Larry’s items begin to have a message that everyone starts to support; and soon his blog is getting thousands of hits per day. People at school begin to talk about Larry, not knowing that he is standing right in front of them. Since so many people begin to encourage Larry’s opinions and judgment on the world beyond his, so they create a festival for him, called Larryfest. This celebration was to commemorate Larry and his ideas, and everyone was welcome. Josh attended the event with his best friend, Beth. Beth does not have any idea that Josh is Larry, and he feels that he can finally tell her at the event. After all, he does have a crush on her. The festival everything that Josh could have imagined. Everyone was happy, enjoying themselves and appreciating the environment around them. Eventually, Josh has to go home; where everything gets worse. His step-father bashes his blog without even realizing it, calling it names that it is unworthy of. Just as he is doing so, Josh is confronted by a ring at the doorbell. Little did he know that the person standing before him was going to ruin his entire life in a matter of seconds. So much that Josh could not live the same life as he did before. Soon, Josh sold off his stocks, committed pseudocide, claims a new identity and moves to a hotel far away from his home. Josh decides that with this time he has on his hands, he will form a new plan to reform the world. Except this time it was going to start with Josh, not Larry.
The author of this book clearly explained the message that they were trying to get across. The language was not difficult and there were not a lot of characters that were involved in the book, so it was easier to focus and keep track of the ones who were important. The only bad thing was that this book was highly predictable, which was also not that bad. Even though it was easy to figure out what was coming up next, the book was very well written and it keeps the reader involved in the book. Overall, the author could have left the book in more suspense but in the end, the balance between writing and suspense evened out to make the book
I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a romantic and inspiring story. This is because this book has a lot of conflict with love and also has a lot of opinions that can spark a lot of ideas. This book would also be good for teenagers from the age of 11 and up, because it may be too easy for adults to read. I would not recommend this book to anyone who does not approve of books that have a predictable plot, and anyone over the age of sixteen.
In the end, this book was very good. The Gospel According to Larry is a must read for anyone looking for an easy read but a well-thought-out plot.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
2 reviews
August 14, 2018
The Gospel According to Larry was an amazing book. I had never read books that were written in a male POV, and this book showed me that it's just as superb as when written in a female's POV. This book talked about Josh, a teenager with various ideas and a big dream of changing the world. With these ideas in mind, he creates his own website, where he writes as a fictional person named Larry. In this website/blog "Larry" writes about his thoughts on how to make the world a better place, and with that comes a fan base and also haters. The novel was a very entertaining piece of writing. I was always very engaged in the story, and I absolutely loved the realistic feel to the book. This book was definitely a great choice, and I would totally recommend it to anyone who likes reading.
Profile Image for Spencer Hall.
21 reviews
February 7, 2022
Reread after first reading it in high school on the recommendation of our brilliant high school librarian.

A breezy read that I had trouble putting down! I loved the characters and especially how Josh/Larry resonated with how I felt as a teen.

I thought about this book a lot when I was reducing all my possessions when I moved country as the main character has only 75 items and trades one out whenever he gets a new one (although that's not even the thrust of the plot).

The spectre of Thoreau hangs over this book and has me yearning to investigate him more too.
Profile Image for Kate.
341 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2022
Odd to read as a sort of homage to early internet blogging and the political culture of millennials, but it ages well as a YA novel.
2 reviews1 follower
September 16, 2015
Technology; the word of the century, created by different ideas and different intellectuals which changed how people today communicate. Like every great power, it has it bad sides, but can also do plenty of good, the human race couldn't live without it. Josh Swensen, a 17 year old, intelligent, outcast only wanted one goal in his life; to change the world and make it a better place. Josh decided to use his intelligence and the Internet to make a fake web page called, Larry. Larry posts inspirational speeches, sermons, and is there to give advice to others when needed. Josh would have never suspected that Larry would go from a nobody behind a computer screen, to an inspiration to the world. Now everybody wants to know Larry's true identity. Larry grows a life of its own by every post and it shows Josh how truly powerful technology can be. Josh can't tell anyone about Larry, not even his best friend and the girl he has been in love with since grade school, Beth. Beth is a spontaneous, fun girl who is all about doing the right thing, but at the same time wants to fit in unlike Josh. Josh made Larry to be a mysterious figure so that he wouldn't have an invasion of privacy. Larry is getting bigger and bigger and leaves Josh with a choice, expose his true identity forcefully or willingly? He knows, at this rate, it's bound to spill eventually. Josh seeks guidance from his mother, who has passed earlier in his life, to help his dream come true, but as well to keep his identity on the down low. The Gospel According to Larry, written by Janet Tashjian takes place in a small town outside of Boston, Massachusetts, in present day. This book provides readers with many important themes such as friendship, the true meaning of power, and ambition. First, I think friendship is a big theme in this book. For example, Josh has stuck by Beth no matter how angry Beth has made him. Beth would always realize her mistakes in the end, and they would forgive one another. This shows, one friend that forgives and forgets, as well as loves you for your flaws, is better than having millions of fake friends. Learning to forgive someone can be hard, no matter who you are. Another big theme in this book is the true meaning of power. Having power is like having leverage they will get you further and provide you with different outcomes, it is how you handle and use the power that will get you further in life. Josh realizes the true meaning of power when Larry becomes a big hit all over the world. Even though Josh has a lot of good sermons that speak the truth, there are people who are angry that he sits behind a computer screen, so angry that he gets threatened on the daily. The last theme is ambition, Josh shows readers a lot of ambition. He isn't like other teenagers saying that he wants to change the world, he does try to change the world by his actions. My favorite quote in the book is "I was changing the world. A tiny bit at a time, of course, but still. I was out there, I was contributing (49)." This quote sums up the whole book, it shows no matter who you are you can contribute to the world. You can't change the world in a day, but you can do your part a little at a time. I disliked this book as well as I liked it. I found it has a really nice message but it was boring. In the end, this book was a good read, but could be better.
Profile Image for Lydia E Winters.
186 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2018
I thought this book had an interesting concept, but ultimately what ruined it for me was Josh/Larry. The epitome of self absorption, I started rolling my eyes almost immediately.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with many of the ideas this “genius” teenage boy puts forth. They’re hardly novel, innovative, or original. They aren’t even written very well. But when you’ve wanted to punch a character so many times in so many pages I feel that says something. (I did take some of my aggression out on a large spider that happened to wander by while I was reading)

I just can’t get over what a self centered jerk this kid is. And the sheer hypocrisy of slamming consumerism while giggling to himself in delight when people start essentially making MERCHANDISE about his alter ego???

Josh/Larry thinks his dead mother was perfect, but she clearly never taught him basic kindness and how to treat human beings decently. He uses his blog to try and manipulate his best friend into going out with him, because he doesn’t like her boyfriend. (Don’t even get me started on Beth, who is dating the guy purely because he’s popular and is nauseated by the smell of meat on his breath.) And the way he treats/speaks about his stepfather’s girlfriend is reprehensible. So she likes to collect Humpty Dumpty stuff, it makes her happy. It’s the only fact we ever learn about her yet the book implies she’s some kind of drooling troglodyte based on that one fact.

Larry talking to his dead mother at Bloomingdales? That’s equal parts creepy and just sad. He clearly needs some serious therapy, and I’m not talking about poor Ms Phillips, who Josh/Larry is intensely cruel to and only sorta feels bad about it afterwards.

This book was written in 2002 which has made it dated due to the discussions of specific brands and computer terms. I wonder if the author knew that several years later the internet would be filled with self righteous and self absorbed idiots like Larry?

As an added note: the Bible verses were pointless, and fairly sacrilegious, especially since Josh/Larry actually COMPARES HIMSELF TO JESUS at the end. If he were the messiah I’d want off of this world.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Luca.
4 reviews11 followers
September 26, 2016
This book is very inspiring I suggest it to every one
Profile Image for Scarlett Sims.
798 reviews31 followers
September 15, 2010
This book was... disappointing. I picked it up at a thrift store after hearing a classmate book-talk it. It sounded like a contemporary version of Valentine and Ender's brother... I forget his name... hang on, Wiki-ing... Peter... yes so it sounded sort of like a contemporary YA version of what they did.

For the first half of the book, I really didn't like it. It had a very blatant anti-consumerism message. I don't necessarily have a problem with the message, it was just very Anvilicious and I find that condescending. Later on, when she started addressing Larry's reactions to everything, I enjoyed that part more.

However, I thought the parallels to Jesus (I'm pretty sure the author intended that) were a bit flimsy/forced. And I really don't like when an author makes a metaphor and then says, "here let me explain that to you." But I also just don't like metaphors in general.

Overall, I think there are better "awareness-centric" books out there. It just feels like the anti-consumerism message is almost a little perfunctory now. There was no real reason WHY people decided they don't need to have things--it was just trendy. I don't know.

I will say I loved the typeface and the footnotes. I can't hate a book with footnotes. I just felt like the author was preaching to me. Maybe that is intentional because of the title?
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books489 followers
May 5, 2008
Reviewed by Taylor Rector for TeensReadToo.com

Josh is a bored seventeen-year-old genius. That is just a recipe for disaster!

Just for something to do, he creates a website where he posts all of his rants about our celebrity-obsessed culture, anti-communism, and any other random thing that he thinks of. Josh names his site "The Gospel According To Larry" because that is the most unreligious name he could possibly think of. He's getting two or three hits a day, until some kids from his school find the page and he's soon getting a few hundred visitors a day to his website.

Then Bono, the lead singer of U2, finds Josh's site. And he mentions the site on national television.

Josh instantly begins getting millions of hits a day and everyone wants to know who Larry is.

Then betagold, a fan of Larry's, begins leaving comments on Josh's site about how he should just come out and tell everyone who Larry really is.

As things begin to spin out of control, Josh goes crazy! What will he do to save himself? Will he ever reveal that he's "Larry"?

This is a really funny book, because I can totally imagine something like this actually happening! Sometimes the middle is a little slow, but overall the book is a really great read!
Profile Image for Alexa.
24 reviews
December 15, 2011
ok so i finished this book and dare i say i actually liked it? wow i read it for school and i actually liked it!!! i think thats a first haha... well it was a wonderful book and really made me think about anti consumerism. do i really need all the clothes hanging in my closet? well im not saying im gonna cut my possessions down to 75 as Josh or Larry did but it opened my eyes and is making me think before buying! :) :D :)
Profile Image for Jen.
1,111 reviews38 followers
August 1, 2008
The title teen is disgusted with the rampant materialism he sees in society and goes about critiquing it with a subversive and controversial website. I think 8th and 9th graders who embrace their uniqueness might identify with this one.
Profile Image for Angela.
51 reviews3 followers
October 5, 2008
This book has a special way of writing; footnotes at the end of pages that explain a certain word or topic more clearly. As in getting the point across in a completely different way. I wish the ending was different though.
Profile Image for ems.
1,167 reviews2 followers
September 29, 2019
i LOVED this book in middle school, and i took larry very seriously*
(it's better if you don't, and that's kind of the point of the book)

*the first review of this on goodreads is from a librarian who recommends it for "environmentally minded teens" haha ...
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