Sunday, September 4, 2011
The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011
I'm not entirely sure where I first heard about this but it sounded like a cute, quick, fun YA contemporary so I figured I'd give it a shot. And it was a pretty light, fast read.
The main character is Janice Wills, an aspiring anthropologist who kind of hates her hometown and uses her interest in anthropology to distance herself from experiencing the world. The book partially focuses on her learning that fact about herself and her transformation into a more impartial observer who also enjoys her own life more. Once she began that change, I was more interested because the earlier Janice was rather caustic and bitter while the later Janice was happier and more upbeat. Her observations were funny but the stings behind them made me cringe about how angry she was.
There are the other characters you'd expect: Janice's sole best friend Margo; her guy friend who she once almost-kissed Paul; mean girls; the seemingly unattainable more popular hot guy (who actually had a bit more depth than I expected); and a motley crew of high school kids. I also really enjoyed Janice's mom, who is an enthusiastic dancer of The Pony step and made me laugh in her few appearances. I thought some things could have received more treatment: namely race relations in this small North Carolina town, which are briefly mentioned but largely ignored, and the conflict between Janice and Margo that was summarily brushed over. I expected a lot more page time about their friendship.
Otherwise there isn't very much in this book: Janice's observations about high school and her small town and a fluffy plot around her relationship to anthropology. A cute YA contemporary that's an okay read.
Read for YA Debut Author Challenge.