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young adult book reviews & more

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost ItA select few members of Gemma Stone’s family are prone to illogical, emotional outbursts—chucking a birkett, as they say. But not Gemma, who views birketts as unseemly and embarrassing, an angry sort of fit to be avoided at all costs. Of course, that’s before her life takes a turn for the chaotic, before her crush on a guy who barely knows of her existence, before she auditions for the school play, before the surprising Raven De Head enters her life, and before her sister Debbie’s crazy wedding plans. And as Gemma tries to navigate these unpredictably waters, she slowly comes to understand that sometimes, chucking a birkett can actually be a good thing.

A cute and sweet coming of age story, The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It was a little technically disappointing but externally enjoyable. From a quick glance, this novel appears original, particularly with the inclusion of birketts and quirky, unusual characters, and romantic, because who doesn’t love a guy who can quote Shakespeare like Raven? However, once the layers are peeled away, the reader realizes that the characters are either stereotypical or confusing. Gemma’s crush Nick, though perfect on the outside, is predictably a jerk, Debbie fills the role of Bridezilla, and Gemma’s soon-to-be-sister-in-law Jack is the classic stiff tomboy beginning to embrace girliness. I didn’t complete understand Raven or Gemma because no explanation if given for some of Raven’s actions and because I couldn’t get a clear sense of who Gemma is. Is she the boy crazy girl who lets her emotions affect her decisions, the open girl who eventually lets Raven in, or the younger sister who doesn’t seem to mind much being called the Big Mistake by her sister’s friends? Plus, Gemma’s supposed best friend Jody is present so infrequently that I often forgot she even existed. Through this story, Shanahan also attempts to address class differences, prejudice, and the positive and negative effects of consumerism but leaves her critiques on these themes largely unfinished; the only evidence of any sort of understanding of those ideas manifests slightly in Gemma though her personally realizations. I enjoyed Gemma’s growth in this cute novel, but all the little details could definitely have been improved.

Fans of The Curse of Addy McMahon by Katie Davis, The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer, Fact of Life #31 by Denise Vega, and A Little Friendly Advice and Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian may also enjoy this novel.

Rating: 3.5

Review copy from personal collection

3 munch(es) :

Teashop Girl said...

Thanks for the honest review and for the mention. :-)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Hm...I'm not sure if I would like this one or not. It sounded fun for awhile but it does seem too predictable for my taste. :)

-Lauren

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Thanks for the honest review, maybe or maybe not...don't know for sure if I check it out.

Dottie :)

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