I am really ambivalent about this book. It was short, and it read quickly, and I enjoyed it while I was reading. Might have even considered it a 5 star book.
However, the more I try to write about it, the more I realize that I have some pretty big qualms about it.
The main character, Ellen, sounded more like 40 than 14.
The families are pretentious, upper class white people living in NYC, who probably have more money than they need or deserve. The parents are mostly absent, leaving their 14 year old daughter to get up to some stuff she’s really not ready for. (But it’s OK, she’s just with this family friend that we’ve known for years….in his house all alone with no parental supervision…..)
No one talks the way book characters talk or think, books take dialogue up a notch. They have to, because no one wants to read dialogue that is 100% true to life. But these teenagers? This was a little over the top for being teenagers. Both in the things they said and thought as well as what they did.
The exploration of sexuality was really thoughtful, and while I’m sure some people hated the ending…once again, I was perfectly fine with the ambiguity. As with most of the books I’ve been reading, I find myself wishing I could talk to the people that picked this for the Printz honor list. What about it made them choose THIS book over any other book written that year?
I will say this: they surely didn’t pick this one for its cover — I can’t even believe how awful the original cover was (it’s the image in the book info. Yikes). Would definitely never have picked it up. The ebook “cover” was clearly done later and is much more in line with what I would have expected and would see on a book being published now.
I guess if you can ignore the cover, and ignore the fact that the main character sounds like a middle aged woman, and not the 14 year old girl she is supposed to be, this short read does have a lot of interesting things to say about being in love, and what love with different people can look like.