Matt Guion's Reviews > 24 Girls in 7 Days

24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley
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May 17, 12

really liked it
Read in October, 2010

There are few things in this world sadder than Jack Grammar’s love life. Though he’s cute, smart, and funny--three qualities that should equal “chick magnet,”--he’s also hopelessly awkward and geeky. Now it’s his senior prom, something he’s dreamed about since his sisters dressed up and made him play “prom” with them, and he wants a date. So his friends Percy and Natalie try to help him out by putting out a personal ad in the school newspaper. Soon, he has nearly 150 responses to the ad. So one week before prom, Jack must go on twenty-four dates and make his decision. There’s also the question of who the mysterious email writer FancyPants is. And can Jack possibly find the girl who’s right for him?

This is, I think, one of the most underrated pieces of young adult literature. I happened upon the book by chance two years ago at my local library, and that’s the only place I’ve ever seen it. I had to order it off Amazon to get it again. If you look at the premise, you think that this is just a completely ordinary quirky young adult romance, and indeed for the first half of the book, it pretty much follows that plot line. You’ve got a nerdy, awkward, but ultimately nice guy trying to find a girl, his friends help him out, and he goes looking for a girl for all the wrong reasons, until he finds his true love at the end, blah, blah, blah.

But this book seems to be all about taking preconceived expectations and smashing them to bits. There are a number of moments throughout the book where Jack is convinced that he’s got everything figured out, that all the puzzle pieces fit together perfectly, and he’s found his girl and his happy ending. And . . . it never ends up being that way. He thinks he’s destined to be with his best friend . . . and he’s not. He thinks he’s destined to be with the girl of his dreams . . . and he’s not. He thinks he’s going to find the girl of his dreams at prom . . . and he doesn’t. In fact, of the three questions that come up during the course of this story--who is Jack going to pick for prom, who is FancyPants, and who is he going to end up with?--the answer is completely unexpected. (Though I did correctly guess who FancyPants was when I first read it. But I still liked it.)

Other young adult romances seem to have the lead character making some kind of growth or change, and as a result, he or she gets the object of his or affection and they live happily ever after. Jack Grammar goes through character growth as well, but the result is not the same as other young adult romances. He sees both his prom date and FancyPants as answers to his love life problems, and in the end, they aren’t, at least not directly, but he’s still very happy with the results. The final part of this story is considerably more touching than any other young adult novel I’ve read, even though Jack doesn’t end up with someone. He gets a prom date, he finds out who FancyPants is, and he hooks up with someone, but there’s no promise of a happily ever after.

The girls on the list vary greatly, they’re all well-developed and interesting (even the horrible ones), and there isn’t one that is wholly right for Jack. He likes several of them, just like guys in high school tend to like several girls. Most people don’t find their soulmate in high school, if they do at all. We see this very romanticized vision of high school, much like we see in a lot of young adult romances, but in the end, we find that this vision is a lie. But it’s in acknowledging and accepting that it is a lie that Jack is able to find the beauty that others see in their high school prom. Jack does make a character change, but it’s not a change that wins him a girl, but rather a change that gives him the power and confidence to seek out his own way, which is a much more compelling message than we usually see with these types of stories. It says that high school is not ideal, but that it doesn’t need to be to still be a memorable experience. More people, especially of that age group, really need to read this story and take in all that it has to offer.

Worth Rating: Worth Owning (used)

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Riikka I bought this book from Book Depository back when you made your review over at YouTube and it's been patiently waiting in my to-read shelve since then. (That is a rather big shelve.) Now I think I'll have to put it on the list of books that I'll try to tackle in the near future. Thanks for reminding how interested I'm about this book!


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