So excited to read this...just have to find the time!
Started the audio version and the narration is a little too zany in style for me (but don't letSo excited to read this...just have to find the time!
Started the audio version and the narration is a little too zany in style for me (but don't let me stop you--I do a lot of audiobook listening at night before bed, so I'd guess this is a probably a great audiobook for a road trip/ or with kids), so I'll switch to the print when I get a sec. I love the artwork on the cover, too....more
3.5 stars Seriously, how cute is this book? It makes you remember feeling shy and giggly and melty-puddly around the guy you like. *sigh*
It took me a3.5 stars Seriously, how cute is this book? It makes you remember feeling shy and giggly and melty-puddly around the guy you like. *sigh*
It took me a bit to get into the story and I didn't love the music-heavy playlist conceit, though the latter was obviously the pitch that got the book sold. (view spoiler)[I was also a bit upset over the way June repeatedly put down other characters' ignorance or lack of smarts, both internally and verbally. Denigrating someone's intelligence is one of the worst things you can do in my book, and while one sexist pig of a character in particular deserved to be put in his place, I was still bothered by the number of times this issue came up, and not just with him. But I'm glad that later on, June comes to see partially why he behaved that way, and that her expectations of other people were challenged. (hide spoiler)] I'm never crazy about books set up around prom either (I genuinely didn't care about it in high school and I still don't!), but I know it's a big thing to a lot of kids so I'll tolerate the cheesiness because it's written so sincerely and with such good humor.
I enjoyed everything else so thoroughly. The book is diverse and sex-positive. The school routine feels solid and real. June and her affectionate, razzy friendship with her gay BFF Shaun gave me warm fuzzies. Oliver's girlfriend isn't a stereotypical bitch. June's girlfriends are so fun and funny, and it all feels so comfortable and familiar, like you were hanging out with TV characters you've been watching for years. Everyone has agency, everyone is memorable. (view spoiler)[I didn't love Itch, but hey, neither did June. I did love the whole way their break-up unfolded, though, especially the very end. (hide spoiler)]
The book also portrays another notable thing exceptionally well. One of the most fundamentally life-changing things occurs when you're a teenager: the realization that your parents aren't necessarily who you thought they were. The maelstrom of complicated feelings that arise from that aren't to be taken lightly, and in the context of this romance, it's handled with just the right touch.
And all that is before we even talk about Oliver and June. Guuuuys. They are so flipping cute! Because they're both with other people in the beginning and they're forced to spend time together, they have to learn about each other slowly and become friends first. They know each other before anything ever happens, and it's so ooey-gooey good watching them fall for each other.
Technically speaking, there were a few minor things that I think might've been smoothed out or fleshed out a bit more; the whole issue with why June's not driving, for example, and a few other random bits like suddenly finding out she volunteers with animals late in the book.
But the book is a really well-crafted contemporary otherwise. The characters are believable, all of them evolve in their story arcs, and the author made me care about what happens to everyone. And it's cuuute. So cute.
Excited to see what this author, who is a writer for GREY'S ANATOMY, does next. I might have to try watching that show after all.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
(view spoiler)[HAVE I MENTIONED HOW CUTE THIS BOOK IS? <3 <3 <3 <3 (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Liked some things, was annoyed by others. It's about time we saw some YA that doesn't spoonfeed the fairy tale of (view spoiler)[let's forgive everyboLiked some things, was annoyed by others. It's about time we saw some YA that doesn't spoonfeed the fairy tale of (view spoiler)[let's forgive everybody, we were never meant to be, all three of us are friends now and the cheaters belong together (hide spoiler)], though. You have to do what's right for you.
Review to come. A pretty solid debut, it'll be interesting to see the author's future books.["br"]>["br"]>...more
If Regina George wanted to be Homecoming Queen, there'd be hell to pay for anyone who got in her way.
This is pretty much the premise of the WINNING,If Regina George wanted to be Homecoming Queen, there'd be hell to pay for anyone who got in her way.
This is pretty much the premise of the WINNING, which is immensely readable and keeps you on your toes. Just when you think one girl is about to swindle another, the other girl almost always manages to see it coming and turns the tables. I liked that we saw various different POVs, and that one of them was the Queen Bee herself, Alexandra Miles. She's a ruthless, manipulative schemer without an ounce of pity, and her determination to win her crown (with the kind of loopy logic that only exists in rom-coms) spares no expense or feeling.
The thing about MEAN GIRLS, however, was that the film was not only a satirical look at social hierarchies in high school, but it was also so freaking funny. That's where the weakness lies in WINNING; it's definitely entertaining, and you want to see people get their comeuppance, but it's neither sharp-witted enough in its narrative and dialogue, nor smart and original enough in its plot to go down as a truly great and memorable book. (view spoiler)[Did you know, btw, that Tina Fey based her screenplay on a non-fiction book called QUEEN BEES AND WANNABES? There's a real basis for all those girl fights. (hide spoiler)] And then the door is left open for a sequel as well? Bleh.
Still. Points for an unabashed anti-heroine, for juggling multiple POVs well, and for a lesbian BFF subplot. These girls are cruel to each other, and it's weirdly gratifying and fun to watch...but not quite as fun as it could've been. I want a story like this to be screamingly funny--and to really go for the jugular, not just settle for a slap on the wrist.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
Side note to those who might get upset over these things in YA, with spoilers: there's liberal back-stabbing and underage drinking, (view spoiler)[an adult is caught doing drugs, and Alexandra crushes pills into a drink and deliberately gives it to a couple of her enemies. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Audiobook narrated by Ryan Gesell and Michael Crouch (along with an author's note), who do an excellent job of portraying LBook 3 for GLBT Book Month.
Audiobook narrated by Ryan Gesell and Michael Crouch (along with an author's note), who do an excellent job of portraying Lily and Dunkin. This is a pretty straightforward story; it's kind of cute at first, and transgender rep is definitely very much needed, particularly in MG. (I'm also curious about how some of the bipolar symptoms manifest, which I wasn't familiar with before.)
But neither kid's story ended up being as insightful or emotional or compelling as I'd hoped, and somehow the voice never struck me as sounding hugely authentic. Sometimes the voice sounded true, particularly in Dunkin's humor, but I was very conscious of the adult writing the story in other parts. It's not even being spoiled by books like George, which was written by a transgender person; there are plenty of middle grade books written by adults that didn't strike me this way. There was also a bit of a tonal disconnect for me--the kids are in seventh grade, which I think is usually younger YA age? But the language and plot and emotions and characters made it feel like a middle grade book (which also seemed to e how it's marketed). Aside from a couple of different elements that could've been tweaked, it sits firmly in grade school in my mind.
It's a very positive book, and it's a positive thing that it exists and perhaps might be of some help to a child going through similar experiences. I especially appreciated the frank discussion of hormones and other particulars that you don't always see, and any book that might open a kid's heart to empathy and compassion is something I'm all for. But if you've read a fair amount of glbt lit, or even a lot of contemporary fiction for kids, this might not be a book that leaves a huge impact.
An audio review copy was provided by the publisher....more
4.5 stars This story is told from the perspective of a smart, dreamy boy who's buzzing with hormones and focused on his sport, but can't quite let go4.5 stars This story is told from the perspective of a smart, dreamy boy who's buzzing with hormones and focused on his sport, but can't quite let go of his feelings for his childhood sweetheart. It treats love--of all kinds--and loss with exquisite delicacy, but doesn't descend into sentimental wallowing thanks to the wry narrative voice and the realistic relationships. It also poignantly shows how the loss of one small person can create a crater of grief in everyone around him, and how that grief can overwhelm life and relationships. Strongly recommended if you loved THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE.
I don't know what the 2016 debut class has been drinking, but they've made a lot of magic happen this year.