Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction (mature themes)
Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.
Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.
This book is sort of the literary equivalent of a tin of Altoids – a little unassuming and cute on the outside while what’s on the inside is occasionally intense enough to make your eyes cross.
Amy’s senior prom was a bust – an actual police bust. When her friend Lila’s boyfriend and the blind dates they’d arranged for Amy and friend Cassie skipped out on them, Lila broke into Brian’s house and found bags of pot. At the time it seemed reasonable to show the guys how mad they were by stealing some of the marijuana but after getting caught by the cops with it in the car, it was the worst thing they could have ever done. All three girls have been charged with possession and possession with intent to sell.
To keep out of jail – or at least avoid a longer jail sentence – Amy has to spend the summer doing what her attorney and her mother tell her to do. Stubborn, sarcastic and occasionally obnoxious, Amy doesn’t help her own case, sending herself into just about every kind of intervention program I’ve ever seen plus a weird one that was new to me.
Do you remember in high school the kids that just seemed to blend into the background? They didn’t belong to any clique, weren’t really good or bad kids, kids you’d make fun of or ignore. They were just…there. That’s what Amy’s always felt she was until Lila and Cassie became friends with her and even if they were a slightly bad influence, they put her in a “pretty people” group and it was worth it. Now that they’re all in trouble, they’ve been forbidden to talk to each other and Amy’s floundering around, trying to form her own identity.
Amy’s mother is something close to certifiably insane or maybe she’s just possessed by a demon. She’s horrible to Amy, taking every sarcastic crack she makes, twisting it as truth then disciplining her for it with some over-the-top punishment. I wasn’t sure if the intention was for me to laugh at the crazy things she did or not but I swung from being angry to uncomfortable and the mom in me was a little nauseated sometimes. I could see why Amy had issues and incredibly low self-esteem. I was annoyed that her dad was given the clichéd role as the absentee overworked parent who generally was unaware of what was going on. I wish he’d have been more present in Amy’s life considering how crazy his wife was.
But. For a girl who claims she’s a nobody with no personality without someone to prop her up, she’s one stubborn, snarky girl who doesn’t run away when a cute guy offers her a ride and can defend herself with a baseball bat. But. She lets her mother run all over her, she’s sullen, self-destructive and she purposely baits people who are trying to help her. The girl was all over the map. I felt horrible for her because I really felt her struggle and understood some of her reactions – and laughed at some of them – but then she’d go too far and I wondered why she had to be written that way. Having said all of that, Amy’s feelings were very raw and sad, bordering on hysterical sometimes. Her feelings of hopelessness really got to me.
The secondary characters bring some lighthearted relief to the story. Amy’s attorney who likes to tell horrible off-color jokes, her well-meaning co-worker Connor, her hippie counselor Daniel and even her pet bird AJ all add a little weird reprieve every now and then. There’s a little romance and intrigue between Amy and Aaron, the blind date who stood her up at prom and Joe, the boy next door that stopped hanging out with her when she hooked up with Lila and Cassie.
My Summary: Burstein has a beautiful writing style that made this surprisingly easy to read despite the subject – once I started I didn’t put it down, anxious to see what was coming next for Amy. This is no light story – there are some mature themes, the humor can be dark and a couple of characters could use a taste of their own medicine. Sometimes the story feels uncomfortably depressing and realistic, a little scary and will hit on the emotions of anyone who’s ever felt like they’d been ignored or made to feel worthless.