Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski

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2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.

I have been lusting over the title and cover of this book for a while now. When Shel informed Bel and I that the electronic version was on sale I bought it immediately so I could read it on our car trip to Florida. I was expecting a light hearted and humorous read about a couple girls checking things off their teen “bucket list”. What I encountered was a story about a girl making some of the most terrible decisions of her teen life.

I found this book to be a highly uncomfortable train wreck. You know that feeling you get while watching a movie like “Meet the Parents”? Where it’s really funny but at the same time you are screaming at Ben Stiller to just tell the truth and all this embarrassing crap would stop happening to him? That is the feeling I got from Ten Things We Did. Every decision and every lie April told in this book was so horrible it made me cringe. But I couldn’t stop reading it. I think I was hoping she would climb herself out of the hole she was digging rather than digging deeper and deeper.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate this book. As I said, I couldn’t stop reading it. There were some definite funny moments. And I did feel for April. She was a girl that in some ways had been abandoned by both of her parents. Her decision to lie to her father (the lie that set it all in motion) came from an intense desire to have some continuity in her life that she was not getting from her family. I also found the secondary characters to be very believable teenagers. Some likeable and some not so much. And most of all, I was very glad to see that there were some serious consequences to her actions. Not necessarily as many consequences that, as a parent, I would have liked to have seen. But definitely enough to make April realize that not all the decisions she had made were necessarily the right ones.

In the end, if you can handle the discomfort that comes along with reading this, I do recommend it for a quick read.


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