Would you believe I’ve never read Kinsella’s famous Shopaholic series? I haven’t. But I wanted to read her YA debut because I had heard some good things about it. Before I say how much I like this book may I ask book cover designers to stop being so blatant about trying to make books look appealing by giving them nearly identical covers to other successful books? This cover is so clearly meant to evoke Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
I loved how Kinsella opened on a dramatic, yet funny, and immediately captivating scene-her mother dangling her brother’s laptop out the window threatening to drop it to break his “addiction” to computer games. After that opening we go back a month to meet Audrey and her family. It turns out that Audrey doesn’t go to school anymore, has panic attacks, and there was some kind of incident at school involving terrible bullying that caused a stay in a mental hospital. Intense! But the tone, while respectful, sympathetic, and appropriately sad at times, remains overall light. I thought this was a super story. I especially loved the family dynamics between her and her brother, Frank, and her mother’s mad ideas about computer addiction. Is it completely unbelievable to me that social anxiety Audrey is going to be helped to recover by a boy being interested in her? Yes. If I was a teenager who wanted nothing more than a boy to notice me and ask me out, and I actually engaged in the world and still had no success, then I can assure you that if teenager me read this book I would have thrown up my hands and exclaimed in disgust, “even the mental case has a boy just come to her house and fall for her!” But that quibble aside I thought this was a good story and nicely written. I’ve already passed it along to a teenage cousin.