Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)" by Sarah Mlynowski
You know how a song that you haven't heard in forever or the hint of a certain smell can instantly conjure up a memory? Remind you of a certain person, place and make you feel like you've been instantly transported back in time? Yeah? Well, that's what this book did for me.
I sat down at lunch and figured I'd skim through the first couple of pages just to check it out and was immediately back in High School. I had to stop by page 3 because I could no longer see through my tears...of laughter! (Btw, it's my bedtime now and I am finished with it.) Even my kids, who were sitting at the table with me kept asking what was so funny but I couldn't begin to explain it to them with out it opening up an entirely different conversation I am not ready to have with a 6 & 11 year old.
I initially wanted to read this book because the title piqued my interest, "Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)". Even if you grew up in a convent, you can not deny that you're curious about what those 10 things are. I would hazard to guess that many, MANY of us have, in fact, done all 10 things, convent or no convent.
This story is about April who comes from a divorced family (Mom cheated and then made Dad move out). She is in the middle of her Junior year of High School and her father decides he's taking a job in another city and that he is moving the family (consisting of April and her step-mom, Penny) after the holidays. (How thoughtful of Dad) April's Mom, lives in Paris with her husband and April's younger brother, Matthew. Her relationship with her Mom is tumultuous at best and while she feels close to her father, her relationship with Penny is strained. April doesn't want to move and leave Noah, her boyfriend of 2 years and her best friends, Vi (Violet) and Marissa. She ends up talking her Dad into letting her live Vi and her Mom, Suzanne or at least that what Dad thinks - resulting in (#1) Lied To Our Parents.
The book opens with a "morning after" scene that involves a phone call from a parent announcing an unexpected visit to a house where a party has taken place the night before. Author Sarah Mlynowski does a hilarious job of describing what the house, in it's various stages of disarray, looks like as well as the panic that has begun to set in amongst the just waking teenagers. For those who never had this particular fear of God struck into them when they were younger, no worries, just reading this will give you the same sensation but without the consequences or lingering memories.
The story goes on to follow April and Vi as they navigate their way through the rest of the school year, friendships, relationships with boys and their respective parents. They also face some tough issues that while, some readers may not feel comfortable dealing with, like underage drinking, losing one's virginity, trips to Planned Parenthood, contraception and STD discussions, are all still important issues.
These situations would be much easier to deal with (and possibly avoid) if either of the girls had a responsible parent physically living with them but they don't. Neither girl has parents who model strong moral values and both have abandonment, trust and self esteem issues. Marissa's Mom is the only one who truly acts like a responsible parent.
April discovers a lot about herself during the time that she lives with Vi, important life skills like how to grocery shop, cook and the difference between dish soap and laundry detergent. She also learns that every decision has a consequence and you have to live with them. Some of those consequences are harmless (and hilarious) and others are embarrassing and ultimately heartbreaking. The adults in this story also recognize that decisions they've made have long lasting effects as well.
I can't overlook the guys here because they were just as important to the storyline as the girls. Noah is April's longtime boyfriend who is sweet, safe and eh, the "nice guy" for lack of a better term. Dean and Hudson are brothers and while Dean is the consummate funny guy (and he IS funny) Hudson is the gorgeous, mysterious one that all the girls swoon after but he's also the object of gossip because no one seems to know what he really does in the way of a job. We do find out what he's up to and my only regret is that we don't get to see more of him in the story. Mlynowsi could do an entire "Hudson" book. I would read it. I'm sure others would too. (I get easily distracted by pretty things, can you tell?)
Some of the other "Things" are: Played "I Never" (#2)~ I never can remember...
Skipped School (#3) ~ yes and I paid the consequences for that one. tears were involved.
Harbored A Fugitive (#7) ~ no comment
Hosted a Crazy Party (#8) ~ pleading the 5th
If you want to know what the others are, you'll have to read the book.
This books shows us that life is about choices, consequences and change. April lived in fear of change because "change" always seemed to bring hurt with it and made her feel out of control. Once she realized that change could be a good thing and that she could be the one to bring about the change, she was finally able to move on with her life.
I related to this book on so many levels it wasn't even funny! (Actually, it was hilariously funny...right down to the tin foil tiara.) I even found myself relating the characters, male and female to my friends from High School. Being a Christian, I KNOW there are people who would tell me I shouldn't even admit to that but, it's part of my "story".
Am I proud of all the choices I made that weren't the smartest? Of course not. Would I go back and change them if I could? Some, yeah, sure. But most of them I wouldn't because they're all learning experiences that have made me who I am today. Besides, I survived...OK, not necessarily the advice I would give my kids but they're not gonna read this. My Mom might though, so sorry Mom. ;D