17 June 2010

Book Review: Of All the Stupid Things

Title:  Of All the Stupid Things
Author: Alexandra Diaz

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, GLBT Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,

This is another simultaneous review with Amy from Amy Reads and Amanda from The Zen Leaf!

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

My Thoughts
While in NYC for BEA and BBC, I attended the Teen Author Carnival where Alexandra Diaz was promoting her debut book, Of All the Stupid Things.  During the panel discussion, she presented the novel as a story about three girlfriends and what happens when one of those friends falls in love with a new girl in town. Copies of the book weren't available at the time, but I later saw her at the BEA in the autographing area and was able to snag a copy.  The GLBT premise and the very awesome cover had me excited to read this.  Unfortunately, the book didn't quite cut it for me.

First off, the elevator pitch she gave and the subtitle there on the cover - Three Friends, One Forbidden Love Affair - are rather misleading.  While a lesbian relationship does exist in the book, I think it's a great stretch to say it is the focus. Actually, the story would have been much, much better had Diaz narrowed in on this idea.  As it, there is just too much going on.

Each of the three girls - Tara, Whitney, and Pinkie - have their own issues, absent father, unconcerned parents, dead mother, and yet these issues are never really explored.  They simply form a superficial backdrop for some of the mini-plots of the story.  Even character actions occur with little explanation, and I found myself questioning choices the characters were making and feelings they were having.  The novel was just too shallow, a constant skimming of the surface even as some rather serious events happen: betrayal, loss of virginity, coming out, all those parent problems...

I do think that Diaz has potential; after all, this book has a host of unique plot-lines which would make interesting stand-alone books. Hopefully on the next go round, she narrows her focus and sets her sights on truly exploring a single idea.

The Filmic Connection
At one point in the story, David asks Whitney to go to the movies. David has been obsessed with Whitney for years, but she has always kept him the role of friend, believing him to be a bit beneath her.  In honor of this often used geeky boy-hot girl relationship, the ultimate "just friends" boy...the one and only Duckie from Pretty in Pink.


This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

The Story Siren; at GoodReads; Carrie's YA Bookshelf; Bookish Blather; In Bed with Books; Pop Culture Junkie; Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf;

Question:  Isn't Duckie just adorable?

16 comments:

  1. Again, I think I liked this one more than you did! I do agree there was kind of a lot going on, and the 'forbidden love affair' really wasn't a large focus. I liked the fact that all the girls had problems though because I guess it made it seem more real to me that no one is perfect. It might have worked better though as three books? Or if a little less was going on. Not sure.

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  2. Hmmm... disappointing. I was looking forward to reading this one... but then this book is in my box of not-yet-arrived/lost BEA books so who knows if I would have had a chance anyway, lol!

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  3. I agree more with Amy on this one - I liked that there was so much going on. It felt realistic in a way that many teen books feel TOO focused. I originally worried this would be too shallow, but I thought the characterization was pitch perfect.

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  4. Amy and Amanda - From reading other reviews, it seems people are divided on this book. :) I don't mind when the characters have lives and "issues", but I want them to have some depth, and this seemed more like looking at a collection of photos than reading their diary entries (if that makes sense).

    Jenny - Well, don't take my word for it! A quick look at reviews shows:

    Lacking Depth/Focus: 4
    Good to Go: 3
    In the middle: 1

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  5. Those are some heavy issues all crammed in one book. It is tough to make good on those topics, and digging deep enough for it to be satisfying, and still have it qualify as YA.

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  6. Sandy - I agree. For me, bringing up such heavy issues and not following through is a bit annoying.

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  7. I'm with you on preferring depth rather than a lot going on. The cover is very lovely, though, and I love Duckie. My favorite part of the whole movie is the "Love and Tenderness" part in the record shop. I could watch that scene over and over and over... :)

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  8. I love the film connection! Duckie is an awesome character.

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  9. Ugh. I hate when they exploit "forbidden love affairs" in YA novels. Kind of makes me want to rip my hair out a bit. (Although I won't judge the author on that since I know they don't really have any say with the covers.)

    Beyond that, I am all for you reading and reviewing more books that make you think of Duckie. He was undoubtedly the best character from all the 80s teen movies. Even if he was a bit of a stalker.

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  10. Trish - That is definitely a scene that really sticks in your head! It was adorable.

    Stephanie - He's one of my favorite film characters. So cute!

    Cass - He certainly had stalker tendencies, but he was too cute to be scary.

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  11. Sorry to hear it was kind of shallow. Great review, and wonderful blog :)
    Duckie is too cute.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  12. Naida - Yeah, it just didn't do it for me; but it seems to be working for many others, so I guess everyone has to read it for themself!

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  13. Hi Trisha,
    I'm sorry the book didn't work for you. I appreciate your feedback and hope the next book is more "focused" for your taste. At any rate, it's only told from one POV but I won't say more just yet... :)
    Take care,
    Alexandra

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  14. Alexandra - It's so cool of you to stop by! It seems that the level of focus is certainly a matter of taste, and I'm at the narrow end of the spectrum. :) I definitely am looking forward to your next book though as I think you really have an eye for the unique.

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  15. Stacy - Hip Hip Hooray! x3. He is too awesome.

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