February 15, 2010

Book Review: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Released: March 16, 2010

Publisher: Simon Pulse

224 pages

From the book jacket: Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he’s paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two tiny details: Ryan is Brianna’s boyfriend. And Brianna is Sarah’s best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feel so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants to do is hurt her best friend. But when she is thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens between them. It’s wonderful…and awful. Sarah is torn apart by guilt but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can’t stop herself from wanting more…

Review:

Sarah, the protagonist of The Unwritten Rule,  is breaking the Unwritten Rule:  she’s in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. In her friendship with Brianna, Sarah has always known her role. She’s the plain, quirky best friend to the gorgeous, outgoing girl. The one who always gives in, does what Brianna wants to do.  In some ways, I think she surprises herself when she ends up in a tricky situation with Ryan, but I also think that she’s completely justified in her feelings and actions.

Something I wasn’t entirely fond of was how Sarah was seemed like a bit of a doormat. Maybe it struck something in me because I’ve had friends like Brianna before and felt like a doormat myself, and now, being grown-up enough to see that, it bothers me to see other people, even fictional people, experiencing the same thing. I want to shake them & say “This is who she is! She will not change!” Sarah is a generous but not very confident friend, always making excuses for Brianna’s behavior, unwilling to see that maybe her best friend isn’t the best friend for her.

The boys that Elizabeth Scott writes, oh the boys. Ryan’s an artistic, funny boy with whom Sarah shares genuine chemistry. The dialogue/writing never feels forced when these two are on the page. Ryan is a nice guy who really likes Sarah. The problem with these two is that neither one of them communicate their feelings very well, to be frank. There were a few “will they just get on with it!” moments for me – but primarily because I liked their chemistry together.

I liked the dynamic between Sarah and her parents. After having read a few books in a row now with dysfunctional families, Sarah’s parents were a nice change. Sure, her mom is focused on an unusual hobby(she enters cook-offs) & her dad is a bit older than her mother & suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, so Sarah & her mother worry about his health. But overall, Sarah’s parents provide something that not all the parents in Elizabeth Scott books do: stability, understanding and patience. They are a marked contrast from Brianna’s parents and that’s entirely the point of their existence and part of the reason Sarah has so much sympathy for Brianna.

One quote that really stayed with me:
“There are a million rules for being a girl. There are a million things you have to do to get through each day. High school has things that can trip you up, ruin you, people smile and say one thing and mean another, and you have to know all the rules, you have to know what you can and can’t do. And one of them is this: You don’t kiss your best friend’s boyfriend. You don’t do it once. You certainly don’t do it twice.”
Scott really gets it right here. There are so many ways that high school is hard for girls. Socially, it wasn’t the worst time of my life(that was middle school) but still, I remember feeling as though there were emotional landmines everywhere, daily.

Lastly, in case it wasn’t obvious: I love Elizabeth Scott’s books. She’s adept at all sorts of characters: the girl who’s just trying to figure things out, the BFF who tells it like it is, the geek-cute boy who cracks wise, the gorgeous boy who has a deeper side…they’re all present and accounted for in just about all of her novels, much to my delight. However,  the author is never afraid to tackle difficult topics and has also written books like Living Dead Girl and Love You, Hate You, Miss You. The characters in those books have with issues-with-a-capital-I, and are sensitively handled. Scott’s diversity of subject matter is just one reason to love her books. Definitely find out for yourself, if you haven’t already!

http://www.elizabethwrites.com

Source: Review copy from publisher

November 22, 2009

The Hunger Games/Catching Fire Fever…

I haz it.
I have badgered everyone I know into reading them. Evangelized to strangers in the doctor’s office waiting room. The only problem was, I didn’t have my own copies. I had borrowed them from my public library.

But now, a month after my birthday, I was belatedly gifted a copy of each.

So, now, am re-immersed in the stories. Which is exactly the way to spend Thanksgiving weekend!

(oh, and just so I don’t forget…I got 3 Elizabeth Scott novels: Bloom, Perfect You & Stealing Heaven. Just as awesome as Suzanne Collins’s books…I’d been wearing out my library’s copies of those books as well!)

My friends rock!

September 17, 2009

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I should state upfront that I’ve got a pretty serious crush on Sherman Alexie. Even without this crush, I’d still say I loved this book.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about Arnold “Junior” Spirit at a time when his entire life changed. He draws comics and loves basketball. One day, he finds his mother’s name in his school textbook, and this is the catalyst that drives him to enroll in the nearby all-white school, leaving his family & peers on the reservation confused and hurt(especially best friend, Rowdy).
Junior is on a journey and it’s a journey like most of us are on: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes heartbreaking.

I’m not going to say it the perfect book because no book is absolutely perfect. There are some parts in it that may not be suitable for younger kids/teens(Junior masturbates) and there is a portrayal of white kids not being so nice to him at his new school. Having seen Sherman Alexie speak in person, I expected this. He seems to hold nothing back and says what he wants, no matter the venue. It’s one of the things I love about him. He has opinions and is not afraid to share them.

All in all, if you like Sherman Alexie, you will probably like this book – it shares many of the same themes found in Reservation Blues and Sherman’s sense of humor is riddled throughout. I think it is pretty standard YA fare and well worth your time.

August 6, 2009

John Hughes: A YA Classic of a Different Sort

I wouldn’t have nearly as much interest in the lives of teens or reading and writing about them if it weren’t for John Hughes. His death saddens me greatly.

When I was 9 years old when The Breakfast Club came out. I remember seeing the commercials on TV and I remember my older sister seeing it. I remember when I finally did see it, years later, I thought that John Hughes was the best writer ever. He just got teens and their inner thoughts, daily lives.

I watched Pretty In Pink a few months ago. Unlike many films of the 1980s, John Hughes movies don’t make me cringe. I’m always transported right back, even though I was a teen a decade later.

One thought I’ve been having since I read the news is, he made me want to be a teenager. For which I thank him.

July 30, 2009

I’d Buy It.

Gooey Decimal System”  would be made of awesome! I’ll definitely join the cause.

New Yorker article here.

Thanks to my friend Gabby for alerting me.