She's in love with a boy who doesn't know she exists. The boy's stuck-up Miss Perfect girlfriend seems to be trying to make friends with her. Her own friends are being totally weird. And some bad-boy type called Gaston gave her his number. And she put it in her underwear drawer.
Review - This is the first YA novel from Karen Tayleur but before I start talking about the book I want to make a note of the dedication "For Toph. A boy who chased me until I caught him", altogether now awwww.
To be honest I really don't have a clear grip on what I think about this book. The ebb and flow of is inconsistant but I think that's deliberate, due to the protagonist's perspective. El is still numb from the fallout that was her life eighteen months prior. The only reason to live, she thinks, is Eric. Now Eric is one of those typically blond, floppy haired boys that is two-dimentional for a reason, he doesn't possess a third. His cousin, Gaston, is a broody artistic type with a penchant for truth telling, in the vein of Sarah Dessen's Wes (The Truth About Forever), that made me instantly like him. Gaston seems to situation himself into El's life but always on the periphery, making comments but not really commiting. Although I think he had my heart when he held a napkin to her nose and told her to blow!
El's best friends, Margot and Desi are pretty hilarious. The monotone, queen of negativity and the bubbly, space cadet are both types that I have in my own friend arsenal. I had to laugh when El's internal dialogue notes that Desi would flirt with King Kong if she had the chance, such is her affinity for the male species. What I liked about this friendship group is that they invented a game of which I wish I played. They call it the 'best-case film scenarios' where they apply a scene from a movie into a situation in their real life. They referenced The Breakfast Club and Tayleur had me!
Depression is a theme that runs throughout but there is plenty of humour mixed up in the narrative as well. During a kissing scene (I won't reveal who), El has an enourmous amount of thought traffic, one of which was hilariously -
"I think he just drank some coke".
Despite the crushes and the humour, there are some hometruths about El's life that slowly get revealed. Her family's structure and financial status have altered radically and it's affected her in ways she might not have fully processed. I like the pace in which El starts finding herself again, the Radio SRN scenes were great as I could relate as a podcaster. I really liked Karen's take on teenager life, some characters could have been fleshed out more but I liked El's voice and that she didn't try and mimic teen speak like so many author's try (and fail) to do.
I have three questions though: 1) How did Gaston's scar come to be? 2) Why did no one ever remark on the fact that Gaston is a weird name? and 3) Does Karen Tayleur secretly love Beauty and the Beauty (there's Bella and Gaston characters)?
Format: Paperback, 244 pages
Publisher: black dog books
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Karen Tayleur's Website
black dog books
**Interestingly, the Gaston character has been re-named Dylan for the American market.