2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn’t have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.
Discovery: I’ve never read any of Sarah Mlynowski’s books before but Ten Things sounded like a fun, frolicking adventure.
+ Humour. The two hours I spent reading this novel were two of the most entertaining hours of my life. April is a wacky girl and that wackiness only becomes more and more obvious as the book goes on. Part of the humour comes from her own naivete, but the reader never feels like she’s going to fail. Her clear narrative voice carries the novel and makes it fun to follow. Certain situations seem set-up to be funny and are simply okay until April starts to consider them. That said, it isn’t a ha-ha kind of funny, but more oh-my-God-no-way-is-she-really-oh-my-gosh trail of nervous laughter and shared embarassment with April. To be honest, it’s hard to explain just how funny Sarah Mlynowski’s dialogue is unless you’ve read the book.
+/- Plot. While I liked the pacing and set-up of the book, the plot offers a more mixed view. On one hand, April’s year seems to be set up for some epic stuff: no parental supervision and a friend who lives it up can only equal crazy adventures. I didn’t read the cover copy, so I had no idea what to expect and that anticipation made the reading experience far more fun. I saw a lot of myself in April–wanting to try new things, but really nervous about them–and I liked cheering her on as she staked her independence.
On the other hand, some of the things April and her friends do seem really over-the-top and unbelievable. I always felt like they were dancing on a very narrow wire and that made me a little cynical that they could pull it off. I wanted her to succeed, but at the same time, I wanted to sit her down and say “April, maybe you’re moving a little too fast.” Thankfully, she realizes this too and while I personally might not have done the same things she did to fix it, I do admire her determination and good heart. Mlynowski’s writing pulls in some bonus points here–the writing is perfect for the tone of the story and doesn’t bog it down with unnecessary lyrical prose. April and her story are simply fun to experience.
– Certain characters and their motives. The last two points may have made it clear just how much I like April, but some characters weren’t so pleasing. I did find that Vi, April’s “housemate,” was larger than life and not in a good way. Her interaction with April did make me wonder at times if peer pressure was a factor in April’s decisions and I’m not sure how to feel about how Vi is glamourized. I also have to ask why she decided to let April live with them. It’s a fast decision, one that’s glossed over in favour of getting to the “Ten Things,” but I do think it’s an important part of the story. What really connects these girls?
Recommendations: I enjoyed this book, but I think I might be too old to find it really believable. Mlynowski does offer up a tasty dish of intrigue, romance and growth and teen readers will have fun crossing off their lists with April.
And just as a little bonus, my own list of Ten Things I Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have), University-Edition:
- Slept in a coffee shop
- Stayed up all night to buy tickets for a basketball game
- Pretended I was my own twin sister (spoiler alert: I don’t have a twin)
- Dared a friend to cannonball into a pool with his suit on
- Joked about posing with a 3-foot poster of Darren Criss in the middle of a mall (spoiler alert: guess what I got for my birthday that year?)
- Made my entire floor (I lived in a dorm) read The Hunger Games. (spoiler alert: there may have been actual wailing once they got to Mockingjay.)
- Agreed to visit the red-light district at 3 a.m. with a huge group of friends on a Friday night (spoiler alert: my best friend and I almost got picked up)
- Fluffed Darren Criss’ hair (I actually don’t regret this at all, but I probably shouldn’t have done it because now some teenage girls want to maim me.)
- Done NaNoWriMo last year
- Waited so long to read Anna and the French Kiss.
(Clearly, I am not as daring as one might think.)
Next review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor