Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle

Last Thursday was my birthday. I went to work for a couple hours and while I was there this book came in the mail. It's one of the books on my 2008 Must Read List so it was a very nice surprise. Happy birthday to me!

My fan status for e. lockhart and Lauren Myracle is pretty well established, but I have not read anything by Sarah Mlynowski. Off the bat there are a few additional things that endeared this novel to me. 1 - I used to live in north Florida. I worked in Wakulla County and I've likely seen Old Joe for myself. 2 - I love the Waffle House! 3 - 3 really terrific teen girl protagonists. (Unsurprising considering the authors.)

How to Be Bad is a road trip novel. Jesse gets it in her brain that she has to drive Vicks to Miami to see Vicks' boyfriend who just started college there. The trip is really an escape for Jesse who is reeling from her mother's cancer diagnosis. The kink in the plan is that the girls are poor. Enter Mel, who also works at the Waffle House, but who is wealthy and so desperate for friends that she invites herself on the trip with the promise to pay for gas, food, and lodging.

Okay, so this is where you have to turn off your reality button. The girls kind of just leave. The fact that the families don't hunt down their children is just something you have to let go. Same with Mel's mother's AmEx Card. Another point of "huh?" was when all 3 girls started singing a song that was completely unknown to me. Turns out it's an old folk song called Red River Valley. It just seemed weird to me. I guess it's a big teen hit!

I had to remind myself to just enjoy the ride and not get picky on the details, but some readers may have difficulty. My enthusiasm for the story did not develop until after the party scene. I don't know if that's a problem from 3 writers trying to make 3 lead characters or if the plotting was a little slow for my taste. On top of that, I had a hard time connecting with Jesse. She had to grow on me.

I thought I would easily figure out which author wrote which character, but it did take me a few chapters of each for certainty. (I'm not going to spoil that here.) Chapter 19, which Lauen Myracle wrote, is near genius for its description of the Veggie Tales Jonah movie. Having a 4 year old and relatives who purchase those movies, I knew to what she was referring. It is head to toe Lauren Myracle at her hilarious (and sincere) best. I was laughing out loud.

Well. If an asparagus can let go of his self-righteousness, then surely I can too.

Same with e. in chapter 28 regarding the naming of the duckling and the coral castle. She nails the funny and the heartbreak. (*sigh* Ruby3...)

Sarah-who-is-new-to-me wrote some of the best boy/girl flirting dialog I have read in a long while. Mr. Exceptional = awesome.

The book comes out in May and will make a fine summer read. Furthermore, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 comes out this summer, so put this one out as a readalike.

P.S. Patti, this is mentioned in the book. As my one and only Canadian friend, have you had it?


Laura said...

Happy belated birthday, Joanna!

I can't wait for this one. <3 E. Lockhart <3

joanna said...

Thanks! I hear e too! Roo3 has the tentative title of The Treasure Map of Boys. (Love it!)

joanna said...

Um, I mean, I heart e. :)