When she was thirteen, Deanna's dad caught her having sex in the backseat of a car with seventeen-year-old Tommy. Until then, Tommy had been Deanna's brother Darren's best friend.
For obvious reasons, Deanna's dad was devastated. (Thirteen! Seventeen-year-old! Car! Sex! Statutory rape!) (And I imagine him being like Luca in The Baby-Sitter's Club movie. "Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen!" So yeah, Deanna is being a 'ho while the BSC is meeting after school. How's that for perspective? Basically, this is really the story of Stacey and Luca. But with more sex and pot and fewer endless descriptions of baby-sitting.)
Tangent aside: Darren beat Tommy's ass. Tommy retaliated by telling everyone in school about Deanna's dad catching them. And in Tommy's version, Deanna was a slutty little girl and the whole situation was a huge joke. (Did you hear the one about the seventeen-year-old who was just accidentally giving it to the thirteen-year-old until her dad found out and was rightfully infuriated? Yeah, I love that one. Almost as much as the one about the talking muffins.)
The story takes place the summer that Deanna is sixteen. She's still dealing with the aftermath of what happened between her and Tommy. Which, you know, sucks.
Everyone in Deanna's family has some pretty serious issues.
Her father is all about the denial and not forgiving people. He's still devastated that he was laid off from his job after nineteen years. He's still devastated that Deanna had sex and became known as a slut of urban legend proportions. He's still super pissed that Darren and his girlfriend got pregnant, had the baby, and live in the basement. And I'm sure he's got a grudge against his wife for some unmentioned reason.
Deanna's mom is the stereotypical mom. When things are uncomfortable or upsetting, she offers the kids ice cream. That would be one of many reasons why America is fat. Otherwise, she keeps out of her husband's way and ignores the way he treats the kids.
Darren (and his girlfriend Stacy) have the whole teen parent thing going on. Darren and Stacy work opposite shifts at the Safeway. And a lot of times, Stacy acts like she feels pretty ambivalent about April. On one hand, April is sweet and cute. On the other, she cries like a banshee, trapped Stacy in a job at Safeway, and makes it so Stacy and Darren act more like roommates than a couple.
Deanna has had enough, so she decides to get her little sixteen-year-old butt a job. The only place that will hire her is an unpopular little pizza shop, Picasso's Pizza. But, a job's a job, right? Deanna is fairly confident that she can handle working at Picasso's.
Except in a fairly expected plot twist, Tommy works there, too. And Deanna is all, "Don't you touch me, you statutory raping asshole!" and Tommy's all "You're still hung up on that?" Pssh. Most of the time, though, Tommy and Deanna don't work together. So it's all cool. Cool enough that Deanna doesn't tell her family or her friends that Tommy works with her. (That definitely won't come back to bite her in the ass, right?)
Everything is going like it normally does. Except that, y'know, Deanna has a job with her ex-fuck buddy. And that she's starting to wonder why she never got together with her BFF Jason before she set him up with her other BFF Lee. (I have to admit that it bugs me that girl-Lee spells her name that way. Most girls spell it Leigh. Why don't you, Lee? Don't you realize how much this bothers me? Unless you're really a LeeAnne or something and not telling us. And why wouldn't you tell us that?)
One night after work, Deanna goes with Tommy to one of their old statutory-rape-in-the-car spots. They make out a little, Deanna's shirt falls off, and suddenly Deanna is out of the car freaking out about how she can't hook up with Tommy anymore. Smart girl. Compared to how Deanna recalls him being, Tommy is surprisingly mature about this. He doesn't push her to go any further and understands when she wants to leave. But first, Deanna yells at him for being an asshole seventeen-year-old that took advantage of her. All she wanted was for someone to notice her. She didn't want to be labeled a slut and have her father hate her.
While Lee is away on a family camping trip, Deanna decides that it'll be a great idea to ask Jason why he didn't pick her. So she decides to open the topic up for discussion by kissing Jason. And there's all kinds of tension because Jason kisses her back. And, of course, the two remember that there's this girl, Lee--remember her? Oh, yeah. Somebody might need to tell her that Deanna and Jason just kissed. And Jason doesn't want to tell her, but Deanna, who is suddenly full of morals, thinks it's the right thing to do. Anyway, Lee is a hardcore Christian so she has to forgive Deanna, right?
Before Deanna can tell Lee what happened, though, Lee and Jason invite her to Taco Bell. After a pleasant meal of crunch wraps and grease, Jason lets Deanna know that he already told Lee about the kiss. Which makes one question how Lee was so chill and normal during that meal. But apparently, that was temporary forgiveness and Lee is pissed. Wonder why...
Deanna's big plan with her summer job money is to save enough to help Darren and Stacy move out of the basement and into an apartment. And she'll move with them. Except she never mentioned this plan.
Which is partly why it all goes to shit when Stacy bails on Darren and April. Stacy is gone for about 48 hours before she comes back. Apparently, she went to a 48-hour party at her friend Corvette Kim's place. A party! And rightfully, Darren is mega-pissed and doesn't know if he can take Stacy back. And Stacy's all, "Why are you so pissed? I came back, didn't I?" And Darren's all, "You left your kid to party with someone named Corvette Kim!"
And Deanna is all wise and shit about this. And Darren points out that she needs to be like that in her own life. Wha'? So Deanna starts off by telling her dad that he can't hate her forever over what she what happened with Tommy. And everyone in the family (but Darren) is absolutely shocked that Deanna would think that her dad hated her. Why wouldn't she think that?! He hasn't looked her in the eye in three years! He won't touch her! He asked her if she was having sex with her middle-aged gay boss!
So then, there are tears and hugs and it's like a scene stolen from the Tanner family. And Darren and Stacy announce that they're moving out of the basement. Without Deanna. But, hey, it's cool now. Deanna has the family she wants.
The story ends on the first day of Deanna's junior year. She meets Lee in front of the school and they reconcile. Tidy ending.
- The title reminds me of the Nine Days song Absolutely (Story of a Girl). For obvious reasons. And I hatehatehate that song on so many deep levels. Mainly because it was so overplayed and everyone was obsessed with it.
- I loved how honest Deanna was about her life. She's between low income and low middle class. Her family lives in one of those houses that have crap all over the yard. There are old boxes rotting on the front porch. The house could stand a coat of paint. Her family is by no means wealthy, and their house shows it. I find the honesty of that refreshing. I'm sick of books about the privileged minority of Americans.
- Armchair casting for just a tic here--I kept picturing Darren being played by Paul Dano. (You'll probably remember him as the awesome older brother that needs to get some sixteen-year-old ass while he can in Little Miss Sunshine. I remember him from the made-for-TV movie Too Young to Be a Dad. Which I think really says a lot about me, none of which is good.) (And actually, I may or may not have seen every episode of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. So my subconscious regrets the fact that I missed out on being a teen mom? Let's hope not. Help me, Freud!)
- I get a white trash vibe from Dano (Little Miss Sunshine!) and he already knows how to play a dad (Too Young to Be a Dad!). Plus, besides his lackluster chin structure, he's way cute in a nerdy-cool-but-not-in-a-hipster kind of way that I suspect Darren is.
- Crap. More armchair casting--Stacy, Darren's girlfriend, reminds me of the one girl from Freaks and Geeks. The one that hated Lindsey and was all blonde and like a tougher version of Laura Prepon's Donna.
- The blonde girl that's all cuddly with James Franco. And dudes, if you don't watch this show you're dead to me. Mainly because that cast picture includes James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel. And the show was written/produced (one or the other. or both) by Judd Apatow. And that is just the start of the awesomeness.
- But yeah, Stacy. Blonde girl. Just replace James Franco's face with Paul Dano's face.
- I really like that you can tell that Tommy has definitely grown up. He's not the same seventeen-year-old that would take advantage of a thirteen-year-old girl. He's matured enough that he can work with her, and he can talk to Deanna about what happened, apologize, and help her to move on.
- But what does it say about him that he's twenty, twenty-one years old and making pizza is his career plan?
- And yeah, I made pizza. But it sucked. A lot. And I have the whole college thing going on too. So it's not like my career goal was to work my up the B. Hill corporate ladder, steal the boss' job, buy the store, and reign over an empire of over-priced failing pizza places. And it's not like I never discussed that plan with my co-workers or anything.
- I feel like I need a last point after that ramble. Have a nice day?