Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Short History of the Girl Next Door

I am having a week that feels nothing like high school.  Sick kid and now a sick husband.  Flooded basement.  Parent-Teacher Conferences.  Cancelling doctor's appointment for my sore shoulder and achy hip to be home for shower door installation.  Figuring out carpools and logistics for hockey evaluations, basketball practice, and etc.  Realizing we have reached the bottom of an industrial-sized container of ibuprofen.  Just the regular stuff of my suburban mom adult life.

It was especially nice then, during this sort of adult week, to finish up the YA novel I had started and spend time reading about a memorable high school friendship.  As soon as I saw a blurb about Jared Reck's A Short History of the Girl Next Door, I got myself on the library hold list for it.

Here's what I loved:
* Strong writing.
* Characters and dialogue that felt realistic.  Sure, that meant that there were some curse words in the book, but I think the language reflects how many kids actually talk.
* A strong sense of a family.  I hate it when YA novels reinforce stereotypes that parents are absent, clueless, out of touch, etc.
* An honest look at grief and the oft-overlooked and sticky issue of who "has the right" to grieve.
* A male teenage character who loves basketball and Honors English.
* The awesome English teacher in the novel.  It's not often that I wish I were still teaching ninth grade English, but reading about Mr. Ellis's assignments, classroom "muse," writing curriculum, and interactions with students inspired me and made me feeling some longing for the classroom.
* Wit and humor.  A tragedy occurs in this book, but there were still many smartly funny moments.

In short, read A Short History of the Girl Next Door.

And then, if you're in the mood for more YA novels, some other good ones I've read this year include:  Julie Buxbaum's What to Say Next, Emery Lord's The Start of Me and You, and Karen McManus's One of Us Is Lying.  If you care to find me on Goodreads (I'm booksandcarbs), I've written some (very) short reviews of the books above.  

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