THE STICKY NOTE OF NEWS
I've got a new About Me page! No particular reason, I just thought it was a fun replacement for the now-defunct Review Policy page I had before. Plus I can chop and change it on a regular basis, which will give me something else to play with when I'm bored at the shop. :)
Thursday, 7 June 2012
Vegan Virgin Valentine, by Carolyn Mackler
by Carolyn Mackler (Walker Books, 2006)
I picked this up in a book sale and didn't really expect much beyond a fluffy light read. What I actually discovered is that this is a fresh, breezy and relatable YA novel that I will be happily keeping on my shelf for next time I need something fun to cheer me up!
Mara Valentine is perfect. She has the perfect grades, the perfect extra-curriculars, the perfect future, and the perfect plan to get there. In between organising student events and liaising with her teachers, she is planning a fast-track summer of college courses so that she can enter Yale as a second year. Then, to her horror, her wild, pot-smoking 15 year-old niece V arrives and turns her life upside down - and as if this wasn't enough to contend with, she also realises that she is falling for her handsome older boss James. The novel explores how these two completely different girls' lives converge. V can teach Mara a thing or two about living life to the full - and about how there's more to life than what grades you get. Meanwhile Mara and her parents slowly begin to instil in V a sense of stability, pride and family loyalty, encouraging her to pursue her talents and study more. If only they could stop treating each other like alien enemies, life in the Valentine house might even become pleasant again...
I really enjoyed Mara and V's journey! I think that anyone who has ever felt the weight of expectation hanging over them during their academic years can relate to Mara - particularly if things haven't always quite gone to plan. I was cheering for her every step of the way! I think that the moral of the story is very sound: that academics are important, but that you can't be good at everything, you can't do it all, and there are other important things in life that can't be graded, like love, friendship, great books, great movies, exciting trips, and taking time to enjoy the world around you. Parents and teachers aren't always right, and ultimately you'll have to make your own decisions.
It's worth mentioning that there are a couple of scenes of mild drug use, and Mara is old enough to go off to university so there's a bit of sexy spiciness between her and James. For that reason alone, I'd be cautious about recommending it to the youngest end of the YA spectrum, but it's a fantastic little read for the older teen market. I'll be keeping Vegan Virgin Valentine on my shelves, and picking up Guyaholic, the second V Valentine novel, at some point too!
Source: I bought this book in an Amazon bargain-bin clearance sale.