Fiction, Young Adult

Well, That Was Awkward, by Rachel Vail

9780147513984

Cute, witty Cyrano de Bergerac-type tale for the texting generation. Gracie Grant is the main character, with her best friend, Sienna, and best neighbor, Emmett, as her closest confidantes. They’re in 8th grade, experiencing all of the early teen anxiety you would expect. Gracie’s situation is a bit unique because she’s her parents’ surviving child. Bret is the deceased older sister she never knew. Sometimes Gracie talks to her. Sometimes she’s jealous of her. Sometimes she’s mad at her. Ofttimes she feels the weight of her parents’ loss, never wanting to upset them or cause them more pain. As if being in 8th grade wasn’t hard enough.

The writing has that staccato rhythm of teen language. We’re always in Gracie’s head and it’s pretty darn full. Thoughts come in spurts, often expressed immediately after. But, being fourteen also means a lot of self-doubt. A LOT. Every character has it, plus a hundred other insecurities that manifest themselves in different ways–sometimes with regret that requires awkward backpedaling. The author does a decent job of creating individual kids with all of these overlapping qualities.

Texting is the teen language and used frequently in the story. The kids have instant access to each other. (With plusses and minuses to this.) They’re also never alone as long as they have their phones. (Is alone such a bad thing?) And then we have the “texting personality” which is different from the “in person personality.” If the texting personality has, well, MORE personality, then what? You’ve got an already angsty teen with two competing personalities. (Yes, that was on purpose. And if you read that quickly you will get the pace of the book.)

Target audiences will certainly relate to Gracie, her friends, enemies, and frenemies.

Meanwhile, I’ve never been so glad to not be a teenager anymore.

8.5/10 Stars

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