real-talk YA book reviews

Monthly Archives: March 2013

ten things

Enjoyability:     smilesmilesmilesmileblank space

Deep thoughts: medium brainmedium brainmedium brainmedium blank spacemedium blank space

Pages: 354        Copyright: 2011

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) follows April, a junior in high school in Westport, Connecticut, who is still reeling from her parents’ messy divorce and her mother and little brother moving to France after her mother found a new man. As if all of that weren’t enough, now her protective father and uptight stepmother have announced that they’re all moving to Cleveland. Desperate not to leave her life in Westport, April, together with her hip older friend Vi, concocts a plan for her to move in with Vi and her mom.

There’s only one problem; Vi’s mom is an actress, and is going away on tour. April’s father would never let her live in an adult-free house.

So they forget to tell him.

Enter an elaborate web of lies as April and Vi try to keep their parents in the dark, keep their friends from destroying the house, and deal with unexpected real-world issues. Meanwhile, April and sensitive longtime boyfriend Noah are taking their relationship to the next level, ushering in all kinds of trouble in paradise.

This was a very well written and original book. The dialogue is natural and believable, and I especially give it props for excellent character development– everyone in the book is very well-rounded and dimensional, and I feel like I may have met them before in real life or could meet them. Even the minor characters have layers and depth. Mlynowski has also made very good use of the list format– each section is titled with one of the ten things that they shouldn’t have done (lie to their parents, skip school, buy a hot tub) and that really frames the story nicely. The story has great flow and energy, the characters are sympathetic, and I wanted to keep reading.

My one complaint about Ten Things is that although I approve of its unflinchingness, it includes so many different kinds of teen sex and relationship situations that it risks coming across as overly educational, like the well-written, fictional sequel to the book your parents gave you when you asked where babies come from. But I don’t condemn it for trying to depict those themes in a well-rounded way.

Although April has some promising romantic prospects in her life, I’m not going to give this one a Squee, because those prospects are slow to come to fruition and never entirely blossom as much as a romance-lover might hope. It had enjoyable romantic drama and sweet moments, it just wasn’t quite squee-level.

Overall, my favorite thing about this book was its originality. I felt like the story was cut free to go places I might not expect, rather than being tethered to a track I could predict. And that made it, all in all, a very engaging read.