dead best friends, dead boyfriends. grief. summer. smacking of sarah dessen. i read these books in tandem with one another and may have possibly confused their plots.
a love story starring my dead best friend, emily horner (penguin)
cass' best friend julia died in a car accident. in the "then" sections we read about cass' determined plan to ride her bicycle across the united states to california, thereby fulfilling her and julia's plan of the summer. she takes julia's ashes for the ride. in the "now"cass is helping julia's old friends stage a ninja musical, penned by julia in the year before she died.
this one surprised me. it was a little confusing flipping from the present to the near past and the present. there's no "before" which would be a more common device, so it's nice to read something done a little differently. cass was a very interesting protagonist, i really liked her, especially how gutsy and capable she was. i loved that she knew so much about bikes and how to build excellent ninja theatre sets.
i didn't know anything about this before i read it, just picked it up because i'd seen the title, and it was one we didn't order in at work. got my copy at the little bookroom, though this event was overshadowed by the denver fiasco and i didn't get around to reading it 'til the other night. it was really great to read a book in which the characters' homosexuality, while not made to appear like a walk in the park, was discovered and explored in a very natural way, i never felt as though any moralistic hand of god was going to come down and judge the world. gay teens are being increasingly represented in their literature, which is refreshing. (i try not to think about the narrowmindedness of some politicians around at the moment. ones with creepy thin lips especially)
twenty boy summer, sarah ockler (little, brown)
aka chlamydia: a how-to guide, aka i know who you did last summer.
just being facetious. ignore me. it wasn't all that bad. though wasn't great.
anna, frankie and matt are best friends. frankie and matt are also brother and sister. then on her fifteenth birthday anna and matt kiss, they spend the next month seeing each other secretly, constantly. before they can break the news of their love (or at least very strong affection) to frankie, matt dies. the main story takes place almost a year later as anna joins frankie's family on a holiday to california. frankie has become a wild child since her brother's death and anna has not been able to talk to her about matt at all. frankie decides that they will chat up/maybe kiss at least twenty boys each over the five-week break and that anna should have sex to get rid of the albatross that has been hanging around her neck.
there were parts of this book that were excellent. i think ockler has a great talent for comedy and wrote the teenage voices really well. i was laughing out loud at some of the things frankie said, and some of anna's observations about love, life and the universe were brilliant and quirky. i particularly liked her musings on the expression "to lose one's virginity" as though you discarded it through carelessness. it's really hard to write good grieving though. while i know i was supposed to be sad for anna and for frankie and her family, i didn't feel it. ockler's prose became awkward as she told us all about the tears, the sobbing, the crumpled body on the sand next to me, the red eyes...instead of crying along with anna i was getting impatient and cynical. the last chapter or two were so cheesy that i had cheese-dream nightmares. however, it's a good read and anna and frankie are great characters.
outcome: dead girlfriends win.