The Seat Next to Mine: A Poem

When I was 5 years old,
I walked into a classroom
Full of golden light and
giggling children.
I sat down on a rug that
spanned the alphabet.
Criss-cross-applesauce
on the letter “A”.

I watched you enter the room,
and plop your pink backpack
down in your cubby.
You stood uncertainly
like you wanted to sit
I hesitated….
Then I patted”B”.

For a year we sat together.
We made crowns of dandelions,
and tasted buttercups
at recess together.
Promising each other it
tasted like popcorn even
though we knew it didn’t.

I scowled at you when you
wouldn’t give me
the pink balloon
I really, really wanted
even though it was my birthday.
But when 7 year old Bryan,
grabbed it from you,
I yelled at him
“Give it back!”
because it was yours.

You left a couple weeks after
your dad got a new job.
I didn’t have your number,
your e-mail, your address
or even your last name.

I went on with my life.
I learned that buttercups
had nothing to with the food
and that dandelions were weeds.
I decided purple was a
much nicer color than pink.

12 years later, I walked into a room
filled with musty books
and the smell of coffee.
I look around the room
for a familiar face
and my gaze snags on yours.

I hesitate because I’m
not sure you are you.
But you pat the desk
in the spot next to yours.
And I sit next to you
One more time.

Adorkable: A Book Review

Book: Adorkable

Author: Cookie O’Gorman

Adorkable

Blurb:

Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

My thoughts:

This is not to be confused with Sarah Manning’s book of the same name. That one features a well-known blogger in high school who lives by herself. This one features a much more “normal” protagonist; she’s geeky and in love with her best-friend.

Adorkable was a very light and quick read. It didn’t touch upon any serious issues. The characters were adorably stereotypical and the plot-line was blessedly predictable. One serious issue I had with the book was the whole premise. Sally is in high-school?  Why are her mother and best-friend so concerned about her being boy-friendless. High school is nowhere near the point at which you are supposed to be in a serious relationship. I’d estimate that age to be closer to 30, maybe 35.

A relatively minor quibble compared to that gaping plot hole is Sally’s plan to get into Duke. Now that I’m a Senior and applying to colleges, I’m aware that Duke requires a really high-caliber student. Leadership in a couple of extracurriculars, several AP’s and a super high test score are expected. And I don’t know about the other 2 criterion, but president of German club and a position on newspaper staff probably wouldn’t be enough unless she was a recruited athlete or she got ridiculously lucky.

On the other hand, this book was sweet. Cookie O’Gorman did a better job of diving into the trivialities of a teenage brain than most YA authors.  This made the book funny at points. It was a breeze to read through and I “aww”ed a couple of times because it was just that cute.

“I was free, liberated. For a second there I even considered burning my bra.”

Overall Rating: 2/5

 

Julie Cross: The Comfort of Patterns

“Pressure is just that—pressure. It’s all in your head. It has nothing to do with what you can or can’t do.”
―  Whatever Life Throws at You

I’ve always wondered what was more important as a writer: having the agility to make all of your characters and plots completely unique, or being able to write a few things well.

While having cookie-cutter characters and plots would be totally boring (imagine having a template where you just add in names and places), I think the old adage “write what you know” makes sense.

Julie Cross is a perfect example. Most of her books share similar elements:

  1. There is always at least one set of absentee parents. (what a cliche)
  2. The protagonist is usually a  precocious girl in her late teens who’s socially awkward due to an unusual childhood.
  3. Each story has a heavy sports angle to it.

However, these repeats are precisely what makes her books so compelling. Julie Cross writes with a confident authority about sports. I don’t know much about sports or the training that goes into it. The extent of my athletic capability is using a bike to get around dancing alone in my room for an hour.  However, either Cross was once a serious athlete or someone close to her was.  She writes so competently about the persistence, the determination and the challenges an athlete faces, it’s hard to believe anything else.  She doesn’t name drop terms or over-explain them; she just inserts them in a way that is immaculate and natural.
Note: I just googled her and found out that she was a former gymnast and now she’s a coach. 

Though there is always at least a dead parent or a dead-beat one, there is also a rational, supportive adult the protagonist can rely on. Julie Cross is fantastic in dismantling the young adult “the adults can’t be trusted trope”. This is not to say the coach/remaining parent is rah-rah, perfect and infallible . More often than not, they don’t know how to bridge the gap with their teenage ward. They enforce curfews and limit independence and have no idea how to talk about feminine issues. But they do try hard. They are stable and present, making it obvious they have the protagonist’s best interests at heart. Watching an angsty teenager and clueless adult bridge the communication gap and build a strong relationship is truly amazing.  I don’t usually make judgments about people’s personal lives, but I think she would be an amazing mother. I know I sound like a stereotypical teen, but she just gets it. 

“You’re always observing people, but maybe you’re studying the wrong things.”
-Third Degree

By reading her books, you can tell that Julie Cross really likes slow-paced, mature relationships. The romance between characters is always born out of friendship and trust. It begins with talking, then there are demonstrated common interests and showing that you understand and care about your to-be-significant-other. This is the ideal I aspire to for love. The characters (and Julie Cross by extension) deal with sex and intimacy in almost a grown-up way. There is no raging jealousy over exes, although there is some insecurity, which is dealt with by talking (how novel!). In Cross’s books, sex is a big deal (most of her teenage girls are socially isolated and young enough for them to be completely inexperienced) but it’s not called a “precious gift” or a guarantee of marriage. She doesn’t even imply that the first time is perfect; in fact, the moments leading up to it are a bit awkward.

I don’t like “Letters to Nowhere” and “Whatever Life throws” and “Third Degree” in spite of the repetitive patterns. I like them because of it.

Third DegreeWhatever Life Throws at YouLetters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere, #1)