Friday 23 January 2015

Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.

April persuades her father to leave her at a friend's house rather than dragging her across the country the middle of senior year. She doesn't want to leave her friends, her boyfriend, her home and sets about proving she is responsible to handle living by herself. However, friend Vi left out one detail: her mother wouldn't be there to look after them. Parentless, the girls go a little crazy! 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this other than a funny, quick read. And it was, very funny indeed, but it also had an undercurrent of responsibility, real adult problems,  like doing your own food shopping, dealing with an absent parent and losing your virginity. By balancing the two, the stupid and the serious, it came across as very real, even as they splurge on a hot tub in the middle of winter! 

Each title corresponds to a broken rule, either intentional or not, and the following consequences that April and Vi have to deal with. This made it very interesting to read and added a little something special to the narrative as I looked for clues. Some rules were serious, like lying to April's parents, while others were almost rites of passage, like the crazy house party. Learning to life by herself turns out to be a lot more complicated than April anticipated and things are made worse by pressure from her boyfriend. First love and the seriousness of losing your virginity is a big deal and I was glad to see that April handled things responsibly, until she does something stupid. Portraying safe sex is something that more YA novels need to do, not just romanticise the whole concept. 

I really enjoyed this; it might not be anything special but it was a very good story with realistic characters portraying good and bad relationships. It was funny and sweet, part romance and part pure stupidity but overall just plain teenage fun. 

Published 1st August 2011 by Orchard Books.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this was a good, easy read but nothing mind blowing. Just good fun!