The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the two rival schools in a spirit of harmony and “the Joy of the Envelope.” But when Cassie, Lydia, and Emily send their first letters to Matthew, Charlie, and Sebastian, things don’t go quite as planned. What starts out as a simple letter exchange soon leads to secret missions, false alarms, lock picking, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the schools–not to mention some really excellent kissing.

While reading this book, I developed a closer attachment than I originally thought I would. I might have said this before, but I’m not much of a contemporary YA reader-person – I have a tendency to be easily bored by reading about what I see as the normalness of every-day life and experiences. I already live in the world I’m reading about. Why should I read about someone living in the same exact world as I am, especially if the protagonist and I happen to live in similar circumstances – student, American, white, etc. (Although in this case, replace American for Australian, what with the story taking place in Australia.)

Even with this book there were things that made me roll my eyes more than a little. Emily, Cassie, and Lydia are three incredibly privileged girls who come from wealthy, lawyer families and attend an upper-crust private school, whereas their penpals are boys attending a public school with a reputation for crime and deviancy, and at least two of those penpals are decidedly less well-off than the girls are. Considering the connections forged between the two sides in the letters, I am a little surprised that class or school differences weren’t bigger issues they had to work through.

There were also the bits that made the story look just too convenient – like the fact that the three girls all happened to end up with three boys and that by the end, two of the pairs are in romantic relationships. And then there’s the fact that with one major exception, the letter-writing goes well and there’s actual communication and rapport that develops between Emily, Charlie, Lydia, and Seb. Maybe I’m just cynical about my high school days and what people were like back then (me among them), but it felt a bit forced that simply by luck and happenstance that four high school strangers would grow to be that into communicating in depth to each other, through letters no less. That’s just me, though.

With all that out of the way, I can start with how I really liked Emily, Lydia, and Cassie’s unique writing styles, ways of describing the world they live in, and communication skills. Emily started out as the more annoying, bubbly one who’s incredibly full of herself, but when it comes to her two best friends, she’s the sweetest person on earth and becomes like a mother hen when one of them is hurt. I preferred Lydia more than the other two from the get-go – once I read her snarky responses to her Notebook™ that’s supposed to help her become a better writer, I knew she was speaking my language. She’s the more negative and closed-off of the three and likes playing games more than being open and honest. She does care about people and if Emily’s the mother hen when someone she loves gets hurt, Lydia’s the mama bear, ready to rip the culprit to shreds. Cassie’s been dealing with her father’s death and she’s not sure of the person she seems to have become in the process, and so uses the penpal project and telling all about herself to a complete stranger as a means of therapy and exploration. Unfortunately for her, this backfires on her spectacularly. Cassie plays less of an active role over the course of the book, but overall it’s about her and how her friends care about and look after her well-being. The final showdown of the story, while not directly about Cassie, brings about closure for her and what gives her the courage to begin to grow as a person.

Charlie and Seb, Emily and Lydia’s penpals were interesting enough people, but I never felt like we got as much insight into them as the girls, largely because we only have their letters and we get other forms of documents for the girls in addition to their letters. Also, like I said earlier, I was irritated that both of them fell so spectacularly in love with their penpals so easily and then spent a lot of time flirting with Emily and Lydia, especially Seb. The girls do fall in love with them as well, but I was still annoyed at how much romance had play a part in these guys’ relationship with them.

The book was written in epistolary fashion and it worked very well. The story largely takes place in the penpal letters each of the characters send each other, as well as a couple of school notices, Lydia’s Notebook™, and Cassie’s diary. The pacing of the three pairs of letters helped maintain an overall narrative and tension as to what individual outcomes would be over the course of the book. Also, the book itself is divided into a few different sections, the results of which nicely mirror across communication streams.

I took a gamble on this book and I am definitely glad it paid off. Although I definitely had some issues, I truly enjoyed getting inside the heads of Lydia, Cassie, and Emily and I was glad that each of them ended up in a good place at the book’s conclusion. After doing some research online, it looks as though Jaclyn Moriarty has written a couple of other stand-alone books set in the same two schools, also written as epistolary novels. It may take a while, but it’s likely I’ll get around to reading the rest of them at some point.

Disclosure – library

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. This book is so truthful and honest, it has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.
 
Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.”

SPOILERS

First published in 1982, this book has the distinction of being the first YA book published in the U.S. to feature a gay couple that has a happy ending. It’s probably more appropriate to say the ending is bittersweet, considering not everyone walks away unscathed from what occurs, but everyone’s still alive, no one “got cured” or “went back” to being straight, and the ending is still really hopeful and very much appreciated.

To start off, Liza and Annie’s relationship is one of the sweetest, most romantic ones I’ve ever read. These two are pretty much the classic example of “love at first sight” – both meet one day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bond over impromptu reenactments of knights performing chivalrous acts, and exchange phone numbers and addresses at the end of the day. Suddenly, both of them are spending the majority of their time together, exploring New York and its environs and finding beauty in everything around them until events come to a turn and Liza, the protagonist of the story, comes to the realization that she is in love with Annie. Me being extremely picky about textual romances, I would have preferred a bit less “love at first sight” and a bit more getting to know each other before romantic attraction sets in, but I’m honestly not going to complain all that much. The joy Liza and Annie experience together and in each other is so palpable and beautiful to read; it’s teenage love without feeling hackneyed at all. And that’s a damn impressive accomplishment.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised, but also pleased that the book addressed not only Liza and Annie’s romantic attraction for each other, but also their sexual attraction, and how Liza deals with the two forms differs drastically. The former’s easier – with a little effort, it’s not too strange to accept the premise that love is love, no matter who it’s felt by or directed towards. The latter on the other hand is harder for Liza in particular to come to grips with that this is something she truly wants, and that she wants it *a lot*. And she and Annie do end up having (non-descriptive) sex, which made me happy. In addition, I really liked how Liza struggled with calling herself gay and how it was just easier to think about the fact that she loved Annie rather than what it possibly might mean. For her, “gay” is too limiting and doesn’t really describe for her what she feels. It isn’t that she likes girls in general, it’s that she likes Annie. She objectively recognizes that “gay” might be the best description and she could theoretically fall in love with other girls later on, but the term still carries too much historical and cultural baggage for her to feel truly comfortable aligning herself with it.

And of course, it couldn’t be all happiness and rainbows because we have the strict, image-conscious, authoritarian principle of Liza’s private school Mrs. Poindexter and her lackey, the fluttery, extremely religious Mrs. Baxter who have gotten on Liza’s case before and get on her case in the end when Mrs. Baxter catches them in a somewhat compromising situation. It was actually really hard to read the first half of the book because it is really beautiful and touching and you know they’re going to get caught and there’s going to be hell to pay. And even the fact that this is set in the eighties doesn’t help with the ensuing rage and pain I felt while reading it because neither homophobia nor heterosexism are dead in the slightest, especially in schools. And the aftermath that follows them getting found out drives an almost impenetrable wedge between Annie, especially because the specifics of what they did cost two of Liza’s teachers their jobs and Liza can’t help but connect her and Annie’s love to that result.

I’m not sure if I conveyed this well or not, but what I’m essentially trying to say is that Annie On My Mind made me feel all of the emotions, and for that, I loved it. It’s such a wonderful love story and a really important one to boot. If you’re looking for a good YA book centered on a F/F couple, as wellas one that’s historically important in the canon of queer YA literature, this book is it.

Disclosure – library

Shine by Lauren Myracle

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. 

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

So I decided to read this book way back when the National Book Award debacle occurred where Shine was originally one of the nominees, but was later substituted for Chime due to an error in communication, apparently. Regardless of the fishy circumstances surrounding the whole thing, the fact that people were fighting so hard for Shine to be re-included convinced me that there had to be something to the book in question, so onto my virtual TBR it went.

This book is very good and in many ways, not what I was suspecting at all. Given the book’s synopsis and the nature of a lot of the anger over the books’ removal from the list, I had assumed the story would center around the issue of homophobia and hate crimes. And while both of those things are integral parts of the story, it isn’t “about” homophobia. Rather, homophobia is part and parcel of living in the small, poor North Carolina town of Black Creek. It’s strange to explain this, as my natural reaction to homophobia (and homophobes) is to go “NO. BAD. WRONG.” Which it is, and they are wrong in their views. However, the people of Black Creek aren’t defined solely by their homophobia, but by other things as well both good and bad. In a town where everyone knows everyone and all are experiencing hard times to varying degrees, there’s a strong sense of community. Characters are in turn kind, selfish, scared, helpful, and abusive, but there’s still this sense of empathy for each one that they’re not solely good or evil. That’s not to say hateful or violent actions are condoned; what Tommy did to Cat is, in no uncertain terms, shown as wrong and horrific. There’s a dark side to Black Creek, what with widespread poverty and meth addiction. But it’s still a complex community with no easy or right way to look at it and the people that make it up.

I really liked Cat.  She had a clear, direct way of describing situations that I appreciated. I also was into the direct attitude she took in solving the mystery behind the attack of her best friend. For the past couple of years. she’s disconnected herself away from everyone, including Patrick. It takes the attack and the realization that she does not know what’s changed in the town that this would happen that forces her to reconnect with all these people she’s previously shut out, including those she wants nothing to do with at all. She has her own brand of strength that manifests itself in her conviction to finding out the truth behind the attack on Patrick, and also in opening herself up and growing into a person that she herself can respect – someone who confronts people, asks questions, and is determined to get what she wants out of them and presenting herself as someone to be listened to.

I don’t think I would have picked this book up had it not been for the controversy, and while it is a shame the whole thing happened, I’m glad that it resulted in me doing so. Written by another person, this book could have been completely different. It could have been hackneyed and clichéd and it could have overemphasized the poverty of Black Creek to the point of becoming ruin porn (it’s about Detroit, but I think the concept is applicable to other places). All of the complexity that makes this book what it is simply would not have been there at all. As it is, this book is about people, some of them horrible people, but people nonetheless living as best they can. It reminds me a lot of The Knife and the Butterfly – the circumstances suck, but these are their lives, and all they can do is live them as they know how to or want to. In Cat’s case, she’s able to reach a place where she can imagine her life being what she wants it to be, both inside and outside of Black Creek. So yeah. It’s complex, nuanced, well-written book and Lauren Myracle tells its story beautifully.

Disclosure – library

The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Pérez

After a marijuana-addled brawl with a rival gang, 16-year-old Azael wakes up to find himself surrounded by a familiar set of concrete walls and a locked door. Juvie again, he thinks. But he can’t really remember what happened or how he got picked up. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. There were bats, bricks, chains. A knife. But he can’t remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars. 

Azael knows prison, and something isn’t right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember. 

Lexi Allen would love to forget the brawl, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much about the brawl—at least when it’s time to testify. 

Lexi knows there’s more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. She’s connected to him, and he needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected

SPOILERS

So first thing’s first – I received a copy of this book in a giveaway hosted by The Booksmugglers, which makes me very happy as I barely ever win those sorts of things. I really enjoyed Ashley Hope Pérez’s post about being inspired by the students she had taught and specifically writing her books for them that they would enjoy reading. Having now read the book in question, her inspiration rings through loud and clear.

Azael was one of those characters whose voice is engaging and who I felt empathy for, but in the meantime, I wanted to hit him for some of the things he says, primarily the misogynistic comments. Still, there’s this really good balance between all these different aspects that make up who he is – being part of the MS13 and the violence and crime that goes along with it, his tough-guy attitude, his love for his girlfriend Becca and his little sister.He’s also someone I admired in a way because he makes no apology for who he is. The point isn’t for the reader to judge him for his story, but to sit back and take it as it comes. I really liked Azael’s passion for graffiti and how he uses it as a way to make his mark on the world, even if it isn’t permanent. He pretty much is the story, and so the world of this book is literally the one he describes in vivid detail.

Lexi was actually the harder of the two characters to like, simply because we see right through Azael’s posturing to what he’s thinking, whereas we see only see Lexi through Azael, whose opinion of her isn’t complimentary, to say the least. Also, she doesn’t really become fleshed out until Azael gets her journal. Afterwards, she ends up looking somewhat similar to Azael because, like him, she makes no apologies or excuses for things she or other have done.She’s a bitch and she embraces that. In the end, Ashley Hope Pérez did a terrific job with both characters; each of them are a blend of several good and bad parts, and neither of them are defined by one side more than the other.

Also, the writing was excellent. Granted, the book itself is pretty short, but I still zipped right through it in a matter of hours. It grips you and doesn’t let go, but it’s also really clear and has some beautiful phrases. Going back to Azael’s voice, there are some great metaphors and comparisons that fit so well with it such that I can’t imagine anyone one else saying them. I actually tend not to stop and notice individual passages and sentences because I’m too busy focusing on the story rather than the words themselves, but as soon as I started reading, I ended up paying them more mind than I usually do.

There was one thing I ended up not liking. I really enjoyed reading the story, I didn’t care for the overall structure with which the story was told. We learn in the end that Azael has died and is suspended in a limbo state where he struggles to remember how and why he died and how it all relates back to Lexi. As has been previously established with regards to time travel, I am not a fan of speculative or speculative-like elements being integral parts of the plot without any context or explanation. I know structures like this been used many times before in books, but more often then not, they distract me from the actual content of the story by making me ask why it’s needed. Obviously for the story to work on Lexi’s side, Azael needs to be dead, but I didn’t see how this benefited Azael’s side.

All in all though, I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Ashley Hope Pérez created some excellent characters in Azael and Lexi and I love her writing. I was less OK with the actual execution of the frame with which the story was told, but since the story is primarily character-based, this isn’t a huge issue. Essentially this is a perfect example of a book where the main character and the story intertwine such that one can’t exist without the other. It’s good stuff.

Disclosure – won

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – more sparkly, more fun, more wild – the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket – a gifted inventor – steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much I did Anna and the French Kiss. One reason is that I’m currently not that into straight-up romances right now. (So why was I reading this? Good question.) The second is that this particular romance failed to have the spark and charm of its predecessor. This is what frustrates me about romance as a main storyline – it is very easy for them to look alike.

Cricket, the love interest, felt too similar to Étienne – he’s cute, charming, funny, does adorable things for the girl he loves, and is the epitome of a good guy. The only things that differentiated him and Étienne was his family background and his prior relationship to Lola. Also, he had no flaws to speak of, unless you count constantly putting his sister before himself a flaw, but even that’s shown in a positive light to demonstrate what a caring person he is. Honestly, he’s *too* perfect – everything he does, he does so with someone else in mind, be it Lola or Calliope, his twin.

Although Lola’s dads in general were cool people, their over-the-top protective attitude really grated me. It made more sense when Lola was dating Max and they had appropriate concerns about the age gap. It ceased to make sense when they, particularly Nathan, applied that same treatment towards Cricket, whom they’d previously subtly and not-so-subtly suggested that that’s who Lola should be spending her time with, and even dating. All of a sudden, they find him in bed with her (no sexytimes were or had been occurring), and Nathan blows his top. Come on, they’re seventeen and eighteen years old, respectively. And Nathan really liked Cricket before that even happened! Sheesh.

I did like Lola’s vivaciousness and her outlook on the world as an endless opportunity to dress up and try new things. However, she came off as even more self-centered than Anna before her. First she spends all her time and attention on her relationship with Max, and then when Cricket enters the scene, it’s all about him and Lola. I’m impressed that Lola’s friend Lindsey supported her the entire time and never really got mad at her, even though Max continually acted like an asshole towards her. It felt frustrating that almost all of Lola’s problems centered around those two guys. She did also have problems related to her birth mom that she needed to deal with, but it still sort of proves my point that, for her, the main people worth caring about and whose opinions and feelings mattered the most were Max and Cricket.

The good thing about this book is that it is great light reading. The writing is easy to read and the story moves quickly – I read it in a couple of hours. It’s a good choice if thinking is not what you feel like doing at the moment (which I wasn’t). That being said, I noticed points at which the writing felt overly obvious. There’s this one section where Lola assures the readers that her dads aren’t gay male stereotypes and that those stereotypes are stupid anyway. I don’t disagree with what she said at all, but I wasn’t sure why the author felt the need for Lola to have to explain this, rather than write Lola’s dads as they are and assume that readers would be intelligent and perceptive enough to see it for themselves.

Like last time, the author did a good job capturing multiplicity of emotions and thoughts of a teenager and falling in love and the confusion of feeling something for a person you think you’re not supposed to. I did like how Lola’s situation was essentially that of Étienne’s in the previous book – she has a boyfriend whom she’s infatuated with, but then Cricket re-enters the picture and suddenly she’s caught in the middle of what she thinks she ought to feel for Max and what she legitimately feels for Cricket. When seen from Anna’s side in the previous book, Étienne couldn’t help but look an ass at times. Here, Lola’s the one who looks like that, except since the story’s told from her perspective, it’s also made clear that being in this particular situation is hard and certain decisions aren’t easy to make.

Overall, this book is pretty similar to its predecessor. It’s cute, fun, easy to read, and fills you with pleasant feelings. If only Cricket had been more of his own person and less of a dream boy and Lola had been less self-centered. I think what this book proves is that I should not read YA romance for a while now, as I currently can’t read it without griping about it.

Disclosure – library

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

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Fun fact – Sherman Alexie gave a talk at my school during my freshman year of college. Not having heard of him before, I didn’t go. That was the biggest mistake, because otherwise I would have read this book a lot sooner than I did. I’ve been hearing good things for over a year now, and I’d been planning to read it for some time, but now I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier, because it is SO GOOD.

Junior’s narrative is simultaneously funny and painful to read. Sherman Alexie strikes a really good balance of all the painful negative things in Junior’s life with a healthy dose of humor, irony, and sarcasm about his situation. The negatives include being poor, living on the reservation, his physical condition, and growing up in a world where almost no one expects him to be anything better than what his family and neighbors are. Still, Junior’s outlook on his life and the people around him is what makes the story so amazing. He knows who and what he is, and he’s not ashamed of that, but going to an all-white school outside the reservation makes everyone else, and even himself, feel that he’s betraying his family, his only friend Rowdy, and everyone else in the reservation. Throughout the story, there’s this constant navigation and coming to grips with the person Junior is, who he wants to be, and what defines him.

At the same time, Junior is a regular teenage-boy dealing with all the regular problems of growing up. One thing I really liked was that Junior was so honest and forthright about things like puberty, sexual attraction, and those awkward times when he shouldn’t have an erection but he does. He also likes playing basketball and drawing cartoons, the latter of which were shown through multiple examples to elaborate certain scenes or internal thoughts. Like the rest of Junior’s narrative, they’re a mix of entertaining, hilarious, sad, and super-intelligent. And that’s the thing – Junior is smart, perceptive, and self-aware. It’s those qualities that allow him to make the observations and claims he does, all of them dosed with his sarcastic, self-deprecating humor. But even though he has a number of qualities that make him ripe for being bullied – namely he’s small, weak, looks weird, and Indian (the latter only applies when he goes to Reardan) – he still recognizes the good qualities he has that allow him to respect himself. Not only that, but he cares so much about other people, including his family and his one friend Rowdy. Even when Rowdy shuns him and starts treating him like shit after Junior transfers schools, Junior keeps faith that they’ll one day be friends again because he knows they each played such a central part in each other’s lives for so long and each needed the other.

It’s hard for me to put into words how wonderful and meaningful this book is. It’s filled with quotes and passages I want to stick up everywhere that so clearly and accurately describe how Junior’s world works, as well as the various people in his life. No sentence is extraneous; every single one contains or contributes to a unique thought or observation. And the cartoons! The cartoons are just as excellent as the words. Suffice to say that this book is one of the most heartfelt, honest, and earnest books I’ve read in a while. Please, for the love of everything, read this book because it will, in Junior’s words, give you a metaphorical boner.

Disclosure – library

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

This book would legitimately be the perfect book to translate into a movie. A girl who thinks she’s boring and her life is boring gets a letter from a wacky aunt telling her to leave home, travel to Europe, have crazy adventures, all the while following the instructions left in 13 letters her aunt gave her, and in the process, learns she can be interesting without her aunt? This is pure Hollywood right here.

I honestly cannot say whether I liked or disliked this book. Many people both on and off the internet have said a lot of good things about Maureen Johnson’s books, so I picked up 13 Little Blue Envelopes when I saw it at the library. The premise was really cool and it was executed pretty well. From a plotting perspective, I can see why a lot of people would like this book – travelling around Europe, trusting in the power of 13 letters to guide me, and hopefully learn something about myself in the process sounds pretty appealing to me. You know, so long as I know it turns out all right in the end. The author did a good job capturing the worldwind that comes with travelling without a plan, figuring out what to do from scratch, and interacting with people from all sorts of countries and backgrounds. Also, I really liked the author’s writing. It was quick and breezy, and I flew through the whole book in a day.

On the other hand, the plot was the only reason why I finished the book. Ginny, the protagonist, was like a shadow. Her thoughts were mostly immediate – centered around how she was going to fulfill Aunt Peg’s instructions this time, nagivating which city she was in this time, and processing her interactions with various people. You’d think that you’d learn more about what makes a person tick given the situations Ginny was put in, but she just wasn’t an interesting person to read about. This could have been the point. One of Ginny’s hangups was that she only felt interesting through Aunt Peg, who was anything but boring. However, if that’s so, than that choice didn’t work for me. It made me wish that the story had been told in first person rather than third, just so I could have gotten an idea of what kind of person Ginny actually was.

Also, how the hell was Ginny able to travel to New York and Europe all by herself, and have everything be A. O.K with her parents? Her mom thought Aunt Peg was an irresponsible weirdo, why would she have let her daughter do something similarly weird?

I’m having a really hard time pinning down what exactly makes me unhappy about this book, given that it was reasonably entertaining. Maybe it was the aura of adventure? And, as I said, the premise was really cool. Maybe the fact that I can’t tell whether the book was deliberately trying to be “deep” or whether it legitimately was just a fun, frothy read is what’s messing me up. There were some scenes whose presence was never made clear to me as to why they were there, such as when Ginny’s in the London underground, and she sees an intact pineapple sitting on the rails. It was so out of context from everything else that I could not tell if this was supposed to be a metaphor or just some weird thing Ginny happened to see.

Even though I can’t make head or tail of my reaction to the book, I still wouldn’t mind checking out other books written by the author. When all’s said and done, I did like her writing. Hopefully I’ll be more actively engaged in the next book I read by her instead of passively reading along.

Disclosure – library