8/24/2010

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina De Gramont: Young Adult Book Review

Every Little Thing in the World
Nina De Gramont
Atheneum
Realistic; Young Adult
March 2010

Before she can decide what to do about her newly discovered pregnancy, sixteen-year-old Sydney is punished for "borrowing" a car and shipped out, along with best friend, Natalia, to a wilderness camp for the next six weeks. (BWI description)

Sydney’s not a “bad girl,” but an average, sixteen-year-old teen who accidentally gets pregnant after dating a boy a handful of times. She can’t believe it happened. She’d listened to her teachers in the sex-education classes at her private school. She and her long-time boyfriend had always taken precautions. It’s only after they break up that she forgets to be careful, resulting in the pregnancy that threatens to change her life forever. She’s sure that her parents wouldn’t understand, and in the beginning, they wouldn’t. So she puts off telling them. It takes until the end to resolve the issue of the pregnancy, and to tell her mother, if not her father, about what happened. Most of the book takes place during a month spent at a wilderness adventure camp in Canada, where Sydney’s dad has sent her after her mother can no longer handle her acting out.


In the ongoing conversation about whether abortion is or isn’t murder, and whether a pregnant teen should have the baby and keep it, or give it up for adoption, Ms. DeGramont does a thorough job of examining the possible repercussions of each choice, while writing a thoroughly entertaining, and though-provoking, novel.

Not everyone would make the choice Sydney and her mother believe is the only right one in this situation. But it’s right for their values, which enables DeGramont to shade the meaning and the attitudes into those that are upbeat and convincing.

8/17/2010

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott: Young Adult Book Review

Something, Maybe

Elizabeth Scott
Simon Pulse
Realistic
March 2010

Seventeen-year-old Hannah does everything she can to avoid being noticed due to the scandalous occupations of her parents, but she might have to make an effort to change that after she develops a crush on two guys at her part-time job. (BWI description)

This was a slight, but enjoyable, book, a quick read. If you’ve ever read any Elizabeth Scott’s novels, you know she is very talented. Living Dead Girl was one of the most disturbing books of 2008. By contrast, Something, Maybe is a more simple story of a girl who wants one guy, but discovers that a better one was always there, just waiting for her to notice.


What makes the book unusual is seventeen-year-old Hannah’s embarrassing, infamous parents. Her mother earns her living as an erotic web-chat hostess, and her father was fashioned after Hugh Hefner. Jackson (the Hefner-type character) was in his 50’s when he had a two-year relationship with Candy, Hannah’s nineteen-year-old mother, impregnated her, promptly dumped her, and would never have claimed his child, were it not for a paternity suit. Unfortunately, Candy refused to take any child support from wealthy Jackson, thus Candy and Hannah only scrape by from payday to payday. Candy is portrayed as reasonably likeable—she’s not overly vain, and she tries to be a good mother, though spending all of her time strutting around in scant, sexy undies in front of a webcam. That she wouldn’t accept any financial support from Jackson made her seem very stupid to me.

Though not ordinary parents, Scott rendered them realistically and, in fact, they are the most interesting aspect of the story. In a bid to improve his image, Jackson, who is now in his seventies, sends for Hannah. While spending time with him, she gets an eyeful about his lifestyle.

When not feeling embarrassed by her overly libidinous parents, Hannah works at the call center for a drive-in burger restaurant. Josh, the gorgeous poet and activist that she pines for, is totally unattainable. Finn, an awkward but nice, guy-next-door type, is constantly doing what he can to get her to notice him … until, one day, she finally does.

Hannah is a likeable girl. Instead of making her too cynical, which Scott could’ve done, she rightly gives her a cheeky quality that is entirely appropriate, given her parents. Irreverence is always easier to take than unrelenting cynicism. Scott’s dialogue catches the way teens talk, and what they talk about, superbly.