Wednesday, May 13, 2009

move over sarah dessen

there's a new YA writer i'm obsessing over in town. i've read A LOT in the last little while. like, a lot a lot. so i'm going to give a rundown on what's been passing before mine eyes.

my second e. lockhart book (timeline: 'fly on the wall' was the first), 'the disreputable history of frankie landau banks' has landed itself on a number of "best of" lists for 2008 - not all of them YA, either. it's a boarding school story (put down the pager! dr. rei has already read this one) of a girl who's come into her own (ie. gotten hot over the summer) and is whip smart and ready to cause havoc on her well-meaning but kind of sexist boyfriend's secret society. there are pranks! there is romance (kind of)! there is a girl finding herself (totally)! i really enjoyed this book, but i was a little put off by frankie's strange awakening to feminism. it was kind of wishy washy and it did the annoying YA thing where the protagonist JUST SO HAPPENS to be a hot little number which is a little galling. it's like, regular girls can't be rebellious? despite minor quibbles (here's the anti-feminist one i wasn't going to put in the review lest i ruin my credibility - then i remembered i don't have any - the girl doesn't end up with the guy she should end up with!) lockhart's brains (i think she's got a phd or something) and her way with words and characters and dialogue is glaringly apparent. she writes entertaining, fully-realized stories that land on the respectable side of fluff without having to pander to clichés or strangely ramped up tragic narrative devices or TEEN cruxes (ie. pregnancy, pre-marital sex, physical abuse, death.)

after finishing this one, i went right out and grabbed whatever i could from her. the next two i read were part of the 'ruby oliver' series, but i read them out of order. 'the boy book' is the second in the series (the third isn't out until july 2009; a fact i discovered when i went hoofing it to indigo on my lunch break at work only to find that i could pre-order, but not have it in my hot little hands.) the main character is ruby oliver, a wise, conflicted, very relatable teen with boy troubles and friend troubles. the story unfolds after a crisis (picking up a few months after the events of the first book, 'the boyfriend list' ends off) that leaves ruby isolated and confused, trying to sort out her life with her wacky parents, the various boys in her life, her shifting relationships with her female friends, and herself. the voice is clever, funny, and rings with a clarity that makes the character feel effortlessly real. this is a book i could re-read over and over again.

the same could be said about 'the boyfriend list' i enjoyed both of these books more than 'the disreputable history' - the characters are more flawed, without the private school gloss of wealth and beauty to insulate them from accessibility. i'm seriously addicted and i'm chomping at the bit for the next one to come out. i can't say enough good things about the writing. say what you will (the dotytron dismissively calls these books my "teen porn" and threatens to turn me into my sister - who incidentally makes a living hunting down actual pedophiles), this is just plain addictive fiction. if people can give nick hornby the time of day, then e. lockhart is certainly his equal. the protagonists just happen to be a bit younger and they're girls. i actually think i like e. lockhart more.

last night for dinner i made flammekeuche with purchased whole wheat pizza dough. i also made that celery, cucumber, red onion and pepper salad with the cumin mint dressing. it's nice and fresh and crunchy and refreshing. it was a good foil against the bacony, creme frâiche-y fatty yield of the flammekeuche.

tonight i hosting knitting club. which means that M, H, that guy, and baby D came over and we knit and talked and watched baby D's kooky, pre-verbal antics. because there were vegans afoot, i made moroccan red pepper, potato and egg sandwiches (minus the egg for the vegans) with harissa. H made us a lovely couscous salad with cucumber, onion, and raisins. it was very nice...but for some reason, totally exhausting.

tomorrow night is dodgeball. i'll have a big chunk of time between work and dodgeball so i'll do some more book reviewing.


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