Summary - Mara Valentine is in control. She’s a straight-A senior, a vegan, and her parents’ pride and joy. She’s neck-and-neck with her womanizing ex-boyfriend for number-one class ranking and plans to kick his salutatorian butt on her way out the door to Yale. Mara has her remaining months in Brockport all planned out, but the plan does not include having V, her slutty, pot-smoking, sixteen-year-old niece — yes, niece — come to live with her family. Nor does it involve lusting after her boss or dreaming about grilled cheese sandwiches every night. What does a control freak like Mara do when things start spinning wildly out of control?
Review – I LOVED the butt book so to get my hands on this little lovely was a truly exciting moment. (Especially as the three people I have since lent the butt book to have been howling at my gates for a new one). 3V, as I have chosen to abbreviate it, was an interesting read as I found it harder to relate to the protagonist. Mara and V are at either point of the personality spectrum (which is kind of the point) and I fall somewhere in the middle. I could relate to Mara’s need to be perfect but I could also relate to V’s need to be noticed. Regardless, I had a fun time experiencing the highs and lows of an uber smart, control freak last months of high school.
Mackler has created a lovely little universe here. Mara’s growth throughout the novel is well paced, believable and always a trip to read. The addition of V was a necessary one as Mara wasn’t setting the world alight with her vivacity. I cared what occurred to these characters, I liked them but I didn’t feel the same enthrallment I felt for Virginia in the butt book. James didn’t hold my interest all that much as he seemed pretty idealistic and not at all what I have come across in any sphere of the dating world. The shared reading and stories about soy milk etc was a little lame but I totally got how you can fixate on something random like a hole in a guy’s jeans. I needed James to be less of a simpering understanding guy and more of a get-off-your-ass understanding guy. The ponytail was a little ewww too.
I loved Mara’s decision to become vegan as I have had friends that have done so with less of a reason (becoming a vegan to catch a guy instead of getting over one – pathetic!). It annoyed me that she wouldn’t just eat a toasted cheese sandwich though as she had no real ethical problems with dairy food. But that’s not the point, Mara’s such a control freak that her eventual unraveling and realization that she needed to smell the roses played into her veganism.
Mackler’s book is a great read and I had fun. It lacked the spark of The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things but possessed the same reality, the things that ground us. The themes of family, acceptance, freedom, independence, choice and expectations are universal whether you are an adult or a teen. I enjoyed it a lot but do felt it wasn’t as focused as other Mackler titles.
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Publisher: Walker Books Australia