Wednesday, June 07, 2006

YA Angst (or, not enough sex, drugs, or rock & roll)

Are We There Yet? David Levithan

In this wonderfully lyric tale, Levitahn tells the story of two brothers, Danny and Elijah. Danny is motivated, driven, a pre-planner, and a work-a-holic rising star at his New York Corporate Firm. Elijah, seven years his junior, is laid back, a bit of a stoner, and a spur-of-the-moment type of guy who takes time to truly see the world around him. Danny doesn't think Elijah knows how to make a living. Elijah doesn't think Danny knows how to make a life. Their parents trick them into spending nine days together, alone, in Italy. Both predict utter disaster. The entrance of the beautiful Julia doesn't help matters any.

Despite all this, Levitahn manages to craft a story that is sweet, but not sappy, with a realistic happy ending that one can actually believe in. He paints a beautiful picture of a real relationship between two brothers trying to figure out each other and themselves.

Rainbow Party Paul Ruditis

In this conterversial book, Gin is planning a Rainbow Party-- where a group of girls each put on a different color of lipstick and give blowjobs to a group of guys-- leaving behind a rainbow. (Although one character does point out that the lipstick would just get all smeared together and make a mess of brown, but that's neither here nor there.) The book follows the characters through about five hours of time on the afternoon and evening of the party-- Gin who's preparing and the classmates who are contemplating going.

Although the book tries to deal with the sexual politics involved in such a situation, double standards, and teen motivation for sexual practice, it remains a relatively light book. Not funny, but it doesn't get very deep. Despite the subject matter, it is not sexualy provacative or explicit and is fairly tame. Still, it was a fairly enjoyable read and teen sex and relationships and one more example of why people getting all up in arms about books they haven't read are just stupid.

Mates, Dates, and Inflatable Bras Cathy Hopkins

Lucy is 14 and looks like she's 12. Maybe. Her friends all easily pass for 16. Her best friend since forever, Izzy, is hanging out with the new girl in school, Nesta and Lucy is feeling more and more left out and left behind. It's time to choose what subjects to do for GCSEs (and then eventually A levels) and her friends and classmates have it all figured out. Lucy is clueless what she wants to be when she grows up. Then, she meets the most perfect boy and must try and get him to notice her, 12 year old body and all.

One more installment to the neurotic teen genre that I love so much, Mates, Dates, and Inflatable Bras is more serious than of Georgia Nicolson or Angelica Cookson Potts and less laugh-out-loud-hysterically funny. But, it is still nice in a fluffy teen chick-lit sort of way. There are a million books in this series and I haven't read them all, but I will!

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole Sue Townsend

Adrian's back! And more angsty than ever (which is exactly how we like him!) In this novel, there is more ups and downs with Pandora, more ups and downs with his parents' relationship, more rejected poetry from the BBC... Adrian befriends Barry Kent and tries a brief stint as a yob, runs away and contemplates suicide. As cringe-inducing and hysterical as the first, Adriane endures as the angstyiest of all the angsty British teens I love so well...

Adrian Mole : The Lost Years Sue Townsend

More Adrian! He finally gets on the BBC, finishes school, loses Pandora for good, has sex, gets a job, and another and another and another and another. His mum gets married! His little sister and brother grow, his grandmother dies... he moves to London... Adrian is all grown up, and he does it beautifully, while still being Adrian, but not always being an obnoxious brat...

This also has a slightly different format than the other books-- in addition to diary entries, there are sections told in letters and radio transcripts. We also get large chunks of Adrian's magnus opus, Lo! The Flat Hills of my Homeland. Also, large chunks of time are missing as Adrian rapidly matures. It's a change that works well.

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