Rating - 4: worth reading multiple times (buy it)
I am so not the target audience for this book. Does that make it less or more appropriate for me to read and enjoy it?
A novel told in verse, Penny is fourteen and headed into high school. It is not really going well, but does anything at fourteen? There are, however, worse things than having a mother who disappeared a decade ago, or getting a new one, or having a sister who is with the Wrong Sort of Boy, or being balanced between two friends headed in opposite directions. Penny will get to try some of those worse things. She will also see a lot of wonderful things, new things, love.
If art is supposed to convey a sense of life, this does so beautifully. We have a solid thread of a story, marked by the emotional highs and lows that our narrator considers important. We dwell upon seven minutes or skip most of a semester, but that is how she feels the story of her life.
The episodes feel true. This is not my life, but I can understand it, and it certainly feels like a life, not like a failed attempt to show one. Well, it is certainly not a whole life, covering as much time as it does, but it is a whole story and a picture that feels complete.
The bad decisions are told well. The mood is there: this is not a good idea, this cannot work out well, why am I doing this? It is a quick tour through a mistake, enough to feel dirty without feeling tainted. How do people deal with their pasts? Move on, it seems, and maybe look back again another day, past these covers. Maybe the time within these covers is looking back, but I hate to read too much into the author.
So it is about friends, it is about family, it is about boys and school and getting a little older. Mostly it is about how those things feel, which is I suppose what we should expect from a novel in verse about a teenage girl.
I have never been a teenage girl, and I am thankful for that. It seems like a bracing experience, but then so does a plane crash. Congratulations to the survivors of both.
Some other things the author wrote (screenplays).
the author's website
Far from my best-written review, but read it anyway.