Stacie's Reviews > 32 Candles

32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
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's review
Jul 03, 2010

did not like it
Read from July 03 to 10, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I've read through a few other reviews of this book on the site, to try to figure out what all the fuss was about it -- especially after the book left me with a more than sour taste in my mouth. Flipping through the pages in my head, I still can't figure out what it is that everyone found "cute" or "heartwarming" about this tragically obscure tale.

Carter introduces Davie, a poor dark-skinned girl nicknamed "Monkey Night" by her classmates. She's ugly, awkward, and heavily abused by her slutty/alcoholic mother, Cora. At a young age Davie takes her own version of a vow of silence, and promises to never speak again, as speaking only ever results in a beating from Cora. Even when one of the most prominent African-American families in the country moves to her hometown of Glass, Mississippi and she finds herself swooning over their son, James Farrell, she still can't find the courage to open her mouth and speak. After a sad and embarrassing night spearheaded by James' nasty and mean-spirited sisters, Tammy and Veronica (OMG they sent her fake invite to their super-exclusive party, only to make jokes and laugh at her when she shows up, HOW ORIGINAL) she flees the city, lands herself in a truck stop and finds a ride to Los Angeles. Suddenly, she's in Los Angeles, discovering herself as a singer and paying her way through a Psychology degree at UCLA.

As a huge fan of all of the 80's teen films referenced in this book, I was very excited to read this book. Especially to see how a woman of color was able to relate to the Molly Ringwald leads. Instead, I was left disappointed, as if Davie never completely understood the films she was watching. Yes the films were all tales of class differences and happy endings, and should completely lend themselves to Davie-James comparisons, but did Davie ever stop to think about why these boys loved Molly Ringwald's characters? She was smart, strong, funny, quirky and cool. Davie's not a dumb girl so I never understand why her character is so dense and unaware of social norms (especially after spending so much time idolizing the "it-girl" of the 80s).

I found myself frustrated with Davie through the first 2/3s of the book. When James walks into Davie's bar and falls in love with her (eye-roll) why couldn't Davie just speak her mind to James, and reveal her true identity to him? Even after her successes as a lounge singer and college student, she still couldn't grow up, become an adult, and evolve into a person who can have a real/healthy relationship. Just when I was most annoyed with Davie and about to throw down the book, Carter throws in the most random twist of all.

Turns out Davie can't tell James anything about her past because she's INSANE and had spent the years leading up to re-meeting him, stalking him and doing everything in her power to ruin his life and those of his sisters. But Carter tells us all of this in flashback, after the fact. As if to say, see, this is why she couldn't stay intimate with James, doesn't it all make sense now? No. It doesn't. We've all been embarassed, rejected, dumped, etc., in our lives, and few people are insane enough to devote so much time to ruining the lives of those that have caused them this pain. Her plans are so intricate that my eyes widened at each page turning. I was no longer annoyed or frustrated with Davie - I was weirded out and disgusted. Get a grip, girl.

We're supposed to understand Davie even further when she decides to visit her mother in Glass and we find out (in one of the most anti-climactic moments of the novel) that Davie's father, her namesake, isn't just her father, but Cora's father as well. Yes, Davie is an inbred. Ah! It all makes even more sense now right? Well, at least that's what Davie says. She even smiles when she realizes that at least her craziness is caused by the fact that she's another inbred country fuck-up. What?!

After James discovers the truth about Davie and her crazy messed up life, the two break up and Davie sees a movie billboard for the film Atonement. Lightbulb moment! I must atone for my sins! She begins to make amends with everyone she fucked over, by playing cupid to all these people and helping them find love. She develops a sort of celeb babysitter service where she helps high profile figures get their shit together by sleeping on air mattresses in their living room and controlling their every move. Yea. Davie's the type of girl I want fixing my life.

When James reappears in Davie's life requesting a blow job and the telling of all her secrets for the rest of their lives, I'm not happy she's finally getting her "Molly Ringwald ending", instead I'm thinking James is insane for not getting a restraining order against this crazy chick.
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Reading Progress

07/09/2010 page 270
02/28/2016 marked as: read

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