Thursday, September 30, 2010

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Okay, so another unplanned Banned Book Week post. Like Blubber, I didn't realize this one was on the list when I got it from the library, read it, and blogged it up. But, hey, it is. So I'll throw it in for this week. And, again, check out Are You There Youth? It's Me, Nikki for a super sweet blog and Banned Book Week round-up.







Well, this one is a doozy. It's been banned/challenged for alcohol! drug use! sex! abortion! homosexuality! sexual abuse! rape! and language! Aaaand Charlie reads books that have been banned. So he's pretty awesome.

I understand people not wanting their kids to read this book because it does deal with some tough issues. But that's the parent's choice about the individual child. Just because little Billy isn't ready to read about drugs and sex and molestation doesn't mean that I should be punished and denied this book. (This book is really aimed at high school-aged readers. I should hope that they'd be ready to read about sex and drugs and abuse and what-not.) How about everyone agrees to be responsible parents and focus on what is right for their own child and family instead of trying to jam us all under that crazy conservative let's-protect-the-kids-from-the-realities-of-life-forever umbrella when most of us don't want to be jammed under there, okay?

Charlie is fifteen-years-old and in the ninth grade. He writes letters to an unknown recipient. He is anonymous to even the recipient. All of the names in the story have been changed to protect the innocent. Charlie uses his letters as a sort of journal, but he finds more comfort in knowing that someone is reading them than just locking them away in a diary.
Hi. So I really like prints and vintage typewriters, too.
Someone want to slap this one onto some shiny paper for me to hang on my wall?
P.S. It's from The Reader's Quill

Charlie enters high school without any friends. In eighth grade, his best friend Michael committed suicide. From there, the few other outsiders drifted apart from each other. In shop class, Charlie meets Patrick, a senior. Soon Charlie, Patrick, and Patrick's step-sister Sam are best friends. It's the first time that Charlie has had a real group of friends. There are parties to go to and new social situations to navigate.

Sam and Patrick guide him into their group of friends. He begins to experiment with alcohol and marijuanna. He immediately has a crush on Sam, but she gently lets him down. Sam is simply too old for Patrick. Still, the three of them like to drive around and listen to mix tapes. And Charlie says some pretty deep things for a fifteen-year-old.

[Infinite_by_jvccmissionary.png]
via The Reader's Quill
As the year progresses, Charlie grows closer to his sister. Their relationship is stormy after he confides in his English teacher that he saw her boyfriend hit her. After that, Charlie's sister hides her relationship from the family. Charlie is the only person she can tell when she gets pregnant, and he is the person that waits for her in the lobby of the abortion clinic.

The family, as a whole, is not close, so Charlie takes a lot of comfort in his new relationship with his sister. Charlie had been very close to his aunt Helen until she was killed in a car accident while on her way to buy Charlie a birthday present. Charlie holds himself responsible for her death to the point that he was in psychiatric treatment at the age of seven. Throughout the book, Charlie mentions his aunt Helen and the influence she had on him. But there is always something about his memories that are just off.

Charlie's English teacher, Bill, becomes incredibly influential. Bill starts giving Charlie special assignments. He begins exposing him to books that really fit where Charlie is in his life. As Charlie's reading progresses, his essay grades improve and he becomes more sure of who he is.

Because dating Sam is a no-no, Charlie does begin to date Sam's friend, Mary Elizabeth. Unfortunately for Mary Elizabeth, Charlie is still too hung up on Sam to give the relationship a try. It doesn't help that Sam gave him advice on how to woo M.E. And none of it makes Charlie feel good. He is constantly listening to M.E. talk about herself and her soap box issues. Even though Mary Elizabeth is pushing her ideas and her favorite books on Charlie and trying to push him into going further with sex than he's ready to do, Charlie doesn't manage to end the relationship until a game of Truth-or-Dare when he's dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room and chooses to kiss Sam.

Obviously, this gets him kicked out of the group for a while. And Charlie is completely lost without his new friends. Finally, Charlie is brought back in after he defends Patrick. Patrick is gay. He had been secretly dating the quarterback of the football team (who had an unsuspecting girlfriend). When Patrick's boyfriend's parents caught them, he and Patrick broke up, there was a fight at school, and Patrick descended into a deep depression.

Charlie does for Patrick what he thinks a friend should do. He goes with Patrick to the park at night so that Patrick can meet other dudes. (And actually, Charlie meets the sports caster from the news station there. Small world.) After going to the park so many nights and watching Patrick get drunk and even kissing Patrick to make him happy, Charlie gets a talking-to from Sam about how he works so hard to be a good friend by doing what the other person wants him to do rather than what they need him to do.

The book ends with an epilogue. Charlie has been in the hospital for several months after having a break-down brought on by the re-surfacing of repressed memories of his Aunt Helen molesting him as a child. His friends are all visiting him regularly before they go away to college. Sam comes to visit and comforts him about beginning 10th grade without friends at school because she's going to be in the same situation at her college.
  • After two years, this book and I have finally been at the library at the same time. Two years! Don't ask why I never put it on hold. Because, really, I don't know.
  • Whoever had the book before me annotated it. This person (a girl, based on my extensive handwriting analysis) is an idiot. She misses high school and is completely scandalized by any mention of sex or masturbation. OMG! Seriously, this girl is all offended about how graphic a paragraph on masturbation is. But the paragraph was pretty PG-13, if you ask me. Was this annotator collecting information on which books to challenge? Because as soon as there was talk about masturbation, this girl checked out to never annotate again.
  • Charlie sounds like he is such an incredible human. He has an incredible amount of insight for a fifteen-year-old. I want to be his friend and love him and hang out with him and drive around aimlessly with him.
  • I loved that you can see the relationship of Charlie and his sister really progress. In a lot of books, the character is essentially the same person at the end of the story as he was at the beginning of the story. But here, it's not just Charlie that has really matured and come out of his shell. Charlie's sister changed just as much. Even though her storyline was a thread off of the big picture, she still grew and developed just like any other eighteen-year-old.
  • You know those people who try to be profound but aren't profound simply because they're trying so hard? Charlie is not one of them. He's thought provoking simply because of his honesty about his thoughts. I would like to think that I'm also not one of the people that try to be profound but isn't simply because I'm trying. Mostly because I'm not even remotely profound.
  • You should go read The Reader's Quill review of this book. That'd be where I lifted the images. The linked section here mostly features quotes from the book. And the quotes are pretty much the best part. Which would really mean that the best part of the book is the book itself. And that nothing I have to say can really convey that.
  • There is a quote from this book--"We accept the love we think we deserve." that wound up on a PostSecret. Which someone then had tattooed on them. And I feel ridiculous for remembering that. But at the same time, it's quite perfect.
  • Rumor (...er...Wikipedia) has it that there will be a film adaptation. Soon. And Emma Watson, that girl I will always think of as Hermione, will star.
  • I have a new love for The Smiths "Asleep." That's the song that Charlie is obsessed with. And now I like it because of this book. Just like all the commenters on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Book 1)


Fools! It's Banned Book Week! Nikki at Are You There Youth? It's Me Nikki is hosting this super awesome event. You can check out her blog here and find out what other banned book reviews are floating around the blogosphere this week here!


My love for this book is a bit by default. I'm part of the Gossip Girl generation. When I was in late elementary school, the girls were offered Gossip Girl and the Clique series. YA series were about wealthy girls living elite lives in New York City. The books were more about sophisticated adults trapped in perfect teenage bodies. That's not how this girl rolls.


Looking back, I realize how incredibly good it was for me to read the Georgia books. My friends and I had a, uh, lot in common with her and her friends. Maybe it's a universal fifteen-year-old thing, but can I get a shout out for boy stalking? Or losing an eyebrow? Or misadventures with self-tanner? Or failed attempts at hair dying? Or repeated public humiliation? Or the boyfriend's ex-girlfriend that tries to work her way back in?


I didn't relate to a lot of books when I was a teeny-bopper. (Again: Gossip Girl generation) I related to Georgia. If nothing else, she cheered me up while I dealt with some not-so-funny things and reassured me during my High School Crush fiasco and made me feel normal and reminded me that life really is funny. And maybe I should admit that I have a huge girl-crush on her. Seriously.


Indie_rock_and_roll_by_lonelyta_large
If she weren't a fictional character that I'm maybe a little too attached to, I imagine this is how we would look hanging out. Despite my somewhat obsessive love for her, I'd be totally cool when we met IRL. And then, we'd get BFF necklaces and groom each others eyebrows and make each other promise to never dye their hair and then have crazy adventures.
I know why people want to challenge the Georgia Nicolson books. There's talk about sex. Some characters (but not Georgia) are sexing it up. There's mention of  drinking and drug use. There's a handy dandy 1 to 10 scale for rating your sexual experience, ranging from "Hand Holding" to "Full Monty." There's the whole red herring business. And a lot of groping. But, uh, isn't that what it's like for us whipper snappers? Isn't it better that as a fifteen-year-old I read about people drinking and smoking and having sex rather than going out and doing those things?


Louise Rennison presents Georgia's blossoming sexuality as natural. And it is. There's no PSA moment of "If you have sex, you will die." Nope. Instead, Georgia and her friends discuss how far they've gone, what they like, and how their boyfriends are doing. That's reality. That's a conversation that my friends and I still regularly have. Kids, it's healthy to talk about the sexy times. And Louise doesn't shy away from that.


It's apparent that Rennison remembers what it's like to be a teenager trapped between childhood and adulthood. What's so scary about that? Why should someone try to challenge or ban the reality? How much scarier would adolescence be if you didn't know that you weren't the only one dealing with the anxiety of disproportionately large breasts or the figuring out how to kiss without making a fool of yourself? (In Georgia's case, she goes to a teenage prostitute. The dude offers kissing lessons to inexperienced girls in the hours between when he gets out of school and when his parents get out of work. Classy.)


Rennison captures Georgia's school days wonderfully. While we didn't all have a grounds keeper Elvis or a hawkish headmistress, we can relate to sneaking out of the school Mission Impossible-style while dodging the security guard in his Rascal Scooter. (True story.) Georgia's school adventures are a little on the dramatic side, but that's what makes her so much fun. Everything is always going wrong--she's getting detention or suspended or battling with Elvis. But you know that she has the right idea--She needs to be having more fun than they're providing. A good time is what matters.

The premise of this book is simple. Georgia Nicolson is a marvy fourteen to fifteen-year-old diaryist. She does some mad boy stalking and is destined to be with Robbie, the hot lead singer of the Stiff Dylans. There is no clear plot or anything like that. Instead, the book spawns a series that follows Georgia in a BSC-approved time warp of fifteenth birthday parties as she does the things that every awkward, funny, cool fifteen -year-old that doesn't have it entirely together does.

Most of the story does focus on her pursuit of Robbie. Who has a girlfriend, Wet Lindsey. Georgia and Lindsey go to the same school, so Georgia is constantly facing her romantic arch-nemesis. Which is only made worse by the fact that Lindsey knows that Georgia has the hots for Robbie. In an Alison-approved move, Georgia and Jas, her BFF that ends up dating Robbie's brother, stalk Lindsey. They learn that Lindsey wears thongs (hence the thong in the title), has no pubic hair, wears an engagement ring to school but takes it off before she sees Robbie, and wears cutlets in her bra. Vital information, I'm sure.


The Angus part of the title refers to Angus, Georgia's half-Scottish wildcat that she convinced her dad to bring home with them from vacation. Angus won't let Georgia touch him and is continuously harassing the neighbor's poodle. From the way that Angus acts, I have to question if he's only half wild cat.


Hi! I'm a Scottish wild cat! I'm here to break up all these paragraphs with my adorable picture!
I'll eat you! Meow!

Georgia's family plays a central role in her life. She's experiencing a lot of storm and stress (Dude. I've got jargon. Go me!) as she tries to assert her independence from her parents while still retaining the sense of security that they can provide. Her mom gives Georgia a lot of free reign while Georgia's dad is in New Zealand for a job opportunity. And Georgia isn't completely cool about that. She still needs her mom to help her feel like her life isn't falling apart as things go up and down with Robbie and learns that the family might permanently move to New Zealand. Georgie needs her mom mum to spend less time flirting with the gay interior decorator and the doctor that looks like George Clooney and more time focused on Georgia and her little sister, Libby.


The overall story does provide a really great lesson (Oh, hi. I'm you're grandma.) about being young and in Stacey McGill-approved LUV. Georgia goes through a lot of trouble to try to impress Robbie. She bleaches a strand of hair with hydrogen peroxide, which is way cool until it falls out. She turns orange from self-tanner. She tries to shield Robbie from her quirky, but realistic and imperfect, family. She parades another boy in front of Robbie after they break up for a bit. But toward the end (or maybe in a sequel. They all run together for me now.) Robbie points out that he likes her the best when she's not trying and is just being herself. And in a Danny Tanner-kind-of-ending, isn't that what really matters? (And yeah, I realize I already mentioned that having fun is "what really matters." So moral: Have fun. Be yourself. Stop overusing phrases.) Now, let's all go hug.
  •  In junior high, we still had sustained silent reading in class. I was reading On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, the second Georgia Nicolson book. SSR was over, so I put it in the cubby hole for my band music. (Did I mention that I'm awesome like that?) Everyone stored their books in the cubbies. I was the only one that had her book stolen, though. My first copy of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging was also stolen. Guard your books with your lives, people!
  • My favorite part of the Georgia Nicolson books is the glossary at the end. I feel bad for the British folk out there that understand Georgia's lingo. Because, seriously, you're missing out. The glossary gives you little anecdotes about where the meaning of words come from.
    • Example: "'How's your father' A boy's...er...penis (or penid as I thought it was until I was eleven). Well, you wanted to know."
    • There's a scene in Ocean's Eleven when Basher says that the crew is in "Barney." Like Barney Rubble. Rubble rhymes with trouble. Those are a lot of the jumps in slang-logic that Georgia is so kind to explain.
    • Even fairly basic words (football=soccer) are in the glossary for us American-English speaking folk. Which really is helpful when you're reading the book for the first time around.
  • When I first read this, I didn't know what the band name the Stiff Dylans meant. In fact, I just realized what a Stiff Dylan is about two hours ago. Don't ever say I'm not an innocent.
  • I'm sad that the word snogging hasn't caught on in America. Snogging sounds better than  making out. Or as the old folk would say, necking. Or parking.
  • Publishers Weekly's review says this book is like Bridget Jones with the wit of Monty Python. True dat.
  • There are six seven eight nine ten books in this series. I've missed at least four five six. I do believe Georgia and Robby split for good. And Georgia comes to America, or Hamburger-a-go-go-land. I may need to investigate this more thoroughly.
    • Okay, reviews are complaining about how the girl doesn't mature. Do they notice that she's always having a fifteenth birthday party? Or that even Robbie complains about her immaturity? Georgia's character never moves past the silly lingo ("cakeshop of agony!" "bakery of pain!") or the same old boy problems. The second half of the series was less literally-laugh-out-loud and more this-old-song-and-dance-again. Crap. Maybe y'all should just read the first half of the series.
  • There is even an Angus movie. Which I really liked. It covers Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging and the sequel On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God. It had a straight-to-DVD release in America, but I managed to DVR that bad boy off of Nickelodeon. And I did see it in a Red Box once. And it's on YouTube. So keep a look out!



Monday, September 20, 2010

Blubber

Okay, so I just realized that Blubber is on the list of frequently challenged books. But Banned Books Week is next week. Whoops! Think of this as a totally unintentional prelude to what's to come. And high-five to me for reading banned books whether I realize it or not. I'm a rebel like that. And you can read the other sweet posts from Nikki's Banned Book Week event here!


Jill Brenner and Tracy Wu are, like, BFFs. They collect stamps together and live across the street from each other. Bad news bears, though, they are in completely different classes this year.

Jill has friends in her class, though. There's Wendy. And Caroline. And a few others. Not in Jill's friend group: Linda.

You have to admit that Linda does have it tough to start off with. She's overweight, has questionable hygiene, and is socially awkward. To top it all off, Linda is one of those kids that will let you make fun of her. She'll just take it.

Everything important starts when the class is doing reports on mammals. Linda does her report on the whale. She goes into detail about how it is the flesner's job to strip the blubber off the whale. The kiddos find this hilarious. All of a sudden, Blubber is Linda's nickname.

Jill decides that she is going to be a flesner for Halloween. Which is considerably less cool than Scout's ham or Georgia Nicolson's olive costume. But whatever. You know it's a questionable costume choice when you have to wear a sign explaining what you are, though.

For all her hard work, Jill is super pissed that she doesn't win the school's costume contest. Because every single PTA judge is obviously an idiot for not realizing what a baller costume flesner is. I know that I always have my fingers crossed that someone will show up as a flesner.

Jill and Tracy go out trick-or-treating. Everyone's parents are pretty nonchalant about the knowledge that the kids intend to vandalize houses. Rotten eggs in the mailbox? Prolific pumpkin smashing and toilet papering? Meh. I guess it's not like they're vandalizing Donnie Darko-style.

Because we have to learn a lesson, Jill and Tracy get caught via photographic evidence. Apparently, Mr. Machinist, the guy whose mailbox they egged, is vandalized every Halloween because, god forbid, he won't give money to Unicef. For some reason, I really don't think that Unicef would endorse egging someone's house in exchange for a quarter. But, yeah, the girls get caught.  As punishment, the girls have to rake his yard for eight hours.  What the hell kind of yard does he have that it takes eight hours to rake--at which point Jill and Tracy still aren't done?

This whole time, Jill is asking her mom advice about what to do about Linda. But in more vague, hypothetical terms. What should someone do if she's being bullied? Laugh it off. The worst part is that Jill clearly knows that what the class is doing to Linda is wrong and should be stopped. But she makes no effort to start the revolution.

The next week, the class has their choir concert. It has a lullaby theme. Which songs excruciatingly boring. Almost as boring as having to sing The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in class every year. (Seven years of that song, and you'd be bitter, too.) The highlight, of which, is when the class sings the word "breast." The entire class agrees that only Linda will sing the word "breast" in order to humiliate her in front of the entire school with one of those cricket chirping moments. And it works. How Linda never got wind of the plan, I don't know. Of course, the music teacher was super pissed and everyone but Linda got after-school detention. But it never went further than that.

Calling Linda Blubber is only getting worse. Out of nowhere, Wendy is making lists about things to do to Blubber:
  1. Hold your nose when Blubber goes by.
  2. Trip her.
  3. Push her.
  4. Pinch her.
  5. Shove her.
  6. Make her say I am Blubber, the smelly whale of class 206.
See how creative Wendy is? She has write down Trip Blubber on her to-do list.

From there, the class makes Linda eat a chocolate after telling her that it's a chocolate covered ant. It's a whole hullabaloo and Wendy pulls her pathological liar mask on and downplays the whole situation to the academic authorities. There's one disgusting moment where Wendy forces Linda to flash her underpants in order to leave the bathroom. (Wendy may be a sociopath. Someone check on that!) Every moment is an opportunity to humiliate Linda. And the class are great at time management, so not a second is wasted!

One weekend, Jill gets dragged to a bar mitzvah of some kid she vaguely knows that made me think of that chubby kid that Drew Barrymore dances with in The Wedding Singer. Unfortunately, I can't find a picture of him online. So if you don't know what I'm talking about, please go watch the movie immediately and then report back!

Of course, Linda is at the same bar mitzvahs. Of all the bar mitzvahs in Pennsylvania...Linda and Jill have to sit at the kids table together, and Jill gets incredibly pissed that her little brother thinks Linda is funny and good to talk to. How dare he see Linda as a human being!

Finally, the class decides to put Linda on trial. Except these kids haven't studied the United States under Britain, so they're missing all the important stuff like a lawyer for Linda or the CourtTV cameras. After some arguing, it is finally agreed that Rochelle can be Linda's lawyer.

I know. You're like, Rochelle who? Apparently, there is someone in this class that has kept her nose out of the Linda-Blubber business. There is one kid that is trying to be mature and mind her own business. And now is a great time for Rochelle to pop up.

With the one good bone in her body, Jill decides that Linda needs a lawyer. Wendy, the class dictator, declares that there will be no trial if Linda gets her own lawyer. The trial never happens because Jill's independent streak pisses Wendy off. In a moment of creativity, Wendy decides to nickname Jill B.B. Or, to you folks that aren't hip to abbreviations, that would be Baby Brenner.

Of course, when Wendy tries to make Jill show her her underwear (and what is with Wendy and forcing girls to flash her?), Jill fights back. Jill, the new class Linda, appears to hold her own against the bullying. (If she's so good at that, why didn't she lend a hand to Linda?) The story ends with Jill starting to win over the other kids in class by sticking pins in her fingertips (Oh, fifth grade...), and the cracks in Wendy's army are already apparent.
  • I am so glad I wasn't born in the '60s or '70s. I don't know if I could handle being a Linda or a Wendy. Or a Sharon or a Sally. Uh-uh. Of course, I mean no offense to the Lindas and Wendys out there, but I really feel like these are names of people that are born middle-aged. Maybe because everyone named that is middle aged now.
    • And yeah, I look forward to the day that Alison is a middle-aged woman name instead of the name of the token bitch character. Life's tough with a soap opera name.
  • Collecting stamps always sounded like a really fun hobby. (And no, I'm not even kidding.) Sadly, I was born in the era of e-mail and not stamps.
  • I remember doing mammal reports. I did mine on the bottle nose dolphin. I got a 99/100 because of one spelling mistake. I misspelled my last name. Yep.
  • Calling Linda Blubber reminds me of Tyler Durden's homemade soap business. Gross.
  • Do kids really pull Halloween pranks that casually? Now, I'm not going to say I'm a house tp-ing/Saran wrapping/yarning/forking virgin or anything. I'm not. Not even close. (Although, why do I consider Halloween to be "casual" vandalism? What exactly was I doing on a random Wednesday in August? Oh, yeah...) When vandalizing, do it with love. And don't egg. Just don't. Also, don't get caught. Or get in a car chase. 
  • I had a point for this bullet. But I can't remember now. There was something important, though! Don't worry, I'm working on remembering it and warding off dementia.
  • How did no adults catch on to the bullying? Did the bus driver see nothing? Am I just from an overly sensitive generation whose parents press charges when kids get bullied?
  • Wendy is just a regular Regina George, now isn't she? I kind of wish there were a sequel that took place in high school. Then, we could read about Jill destroying Wendy's "technically hot body," "army of skanks," and stealing Wendy's smokin' boyfriend.
  • I like Tracy. I really do. She sticks with Jill even when everyone is calling her B.B. Tracy is a girl to keep around.
  • Nikki at Are You There Youth? It's Me, Nikki put Jill on the Cunt Log. Totally agree with her on that choice...but my hatred for Jill is only outweighed by my hatred for Wendy.











Monday, September 13, 2010

Story of a Girl



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...

Meanwhile:

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?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    BSC #2 The Truth About Stacey--Graphic Novel



    This is the second graphic novel in the series, but The Truth About Stacey is really the third book in the BSC series. I'm a little confused about this. Instead of graphic novelizing Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, Claudia and Mean Janine was graphic novelized.

    Any hoodles--

    Full summary is here!

    Musings on this piece of literature--

    1. How do we know that the BSA is bad news?
    The ladies are 1) wearing black, 2) chewing gum, 3)astounding the BSC with their lack of curfews, 4) the girl on the right has her lip pierced, 5) girl on left is wearing a choker and boots, and 6) the girls share a general look of disdain for all that is good in this world.

    2. Someone finally realized how ridiculous it is that the whole Jamie Newton fiasco. The emphasis has been taken off the fact that he wasn't wearing mittens and onto the more alarming fact here--Jamie was by the street by himself. He could have been kidnapped or hit by a car or eaten by a dingo. And the BSA doesn't care!




    3. There's no Andrew or Karen Brewer cameo here. But don't worry! There's another super cute BSC kid making her debut here. Check out Charlotte freakin' Johannson!




    Look at her thinking! I just want to pat her on her little head!

    Also, I was looking up information on Telgemeier and found a comic that her husband drew to propose to her. It's pretty frickin' adorable.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Hello, Cupcake--Take Three

    It's been a long time since I whipped out my Ace of Cakes skills and showed off the results of Hello, Cupcake, my and my roommates veryfavoriteever! cookbook.



    You can check out our super cute owls here.
    And our not-so-successful sunflowers here.
    Or you can read the author's blog here.

    This time, it was pure pandamonium. (Pun very much intended.)

    Sorry for the glare! Damn you overhead lights!
    That's the intended result. And has the finished product ever looked like the model? Nope.

    For most of the baking process, I was busy making dinner for the roommates, so I can't claim to have a huge hand in these. I did pipe on the pupils and claws. Except that a lot of the pandas appear to have neurological damage and have one pupil significantly larger than the other. Whoops!

    Couple of things though:

    • This is a fierce number of cupcakes involved in this process. We had to invest in a mini-cupcake pan for this venture.
      • And, okay, now it doesn't look like that many. At the time, it seemed like it.
    • Too many pandas start to look like a zombie attack!

    Fierce pandas are backed up by the Choose Your Own Adventure
    Italian bread spices! Rawr!
    • Panda feet are stupid. They just sit there!
    • Cutting Oreos in half for useless panda feet is not quite as easy as it looks. I've proven myself to be a skilled Oreo surgeon, though. Also, half-Oreos are really better than whole Oreos. You get to eat twice as many! Kind of.
    • Those little panda ears are chocolate covered Cheerios. They taste like shit.
    • The noses are mini-marshmallows smooshed onto the face and covered in frosting. I don't know if I'm just a fatty, but I don't remember tasting any marshmallow when I ate it. Whoops!
    • Same story as the first two times: Give us a reasonable ingredient list and a picture. Save the directions 'cause nobody reads them.