Publisher: HarperTeen (June 7, 2011)
Format: Kindle Edition
Sarah Mlynowski, I gotta hand it to you. That is one great cover! It’s flirty, it’s fresh, it conveys the right amount of tension and longing, and makes me want to immediately pick up Ten Things right now and reread it…slight problem though: it also makes me feel like some aging cougar stalking tender, young prey. And I’m only in my late twenties! Gah, is it just me or does that kid look like he should still be thinking about video games and comic books while drinking whole milk out of a sippy cup? He clearly should NOT be gazing longingly at the lips of the obviously older woman in front of him. Way to make a girl feel old. Sigh.
The day after throwing herself a massive birthday bash, April is awakened with the news that her father is in town and headed her way. Only problem is, the house is a wreck, there are two random boys in her bed, and the adult she is supposed to be living with is actually thousands of miles away. Flash-back three months and April is confronted with her father’s announcement that he and his new wife have decided to move to Cleveland. Not willing to give up her life in Connecticut, April begs, pleads, and finally lies her way into a sweet living arrangement. Her father thinks she will be living with her best friend, Vi, and her mother but in reality, Vi’s mother will be touring with a national theater group and April and Vi will be living the good life of unsupervised teenage freedom. Over the course of three months, the two do anything and everything that makes them happy. It’s hedonism at its best and results in their doing ten things they shouldn’t have. Staying up until all hours, eating whatever they want, and throwing parties leads to buying a hot tub with rent money, spending three thousand bucks on a donut, losing their virginity, and hosting a mr universe contest that devolves into drunken disaster. All the while, April struggles to maintain the same life she had before her family moved away. She attempts to keep her friendships and grades in good shape while continuing to date her long-term boyfriend, Noah. She also fends off the beginnings of a hot attraction to Vi’s friend, Hudson, and by the end of the book, we see her forced to make her choice between the two (though it really isn’t tough after a shocker involving chlamydia). April’s 10 things she shouldn’t have done do catch up with her in the end though we really wish they wouldn’t and she’s forced to reconcile the life she wants with what she can have.
When I was 14, my parents announced the big plan to move to Omaha, NE. I thought my life was done. Ruined. I begged. I pleaded. I somehow convinced my best friend that it would be a great idea if I moved in with her and her parents until high school was over. But let me tell you, my parents nixed that idea as soon as it left my lips and then carted me off to the cornfields. Honestly, what parent would leave a teenager to be raised by strangers? Ultimately, that’s the crux of my problem with this novel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great! Well-written, fast paced, original–all of those superlatives you use to describe something you read in under 48 hours–but it was highly implausible and I found myself cocking an eyebrow anytime something harebrained happened. The kicker is the parents who didn’t talk to the adult they entrusted their kid to. They conducted the whole thing via email and all I could think was, seriously, who does that?! They can’t pick up a phone or meet in person? Why didn’t they just text: thx 4 watching April. C u n 3 months. IMO, It was way too easy for her to get out of having a chaperone. The implausibility aside, this book is fun and witty and a good reminder of how care-free adolescence can be. Watching April and Vi make stupid mistakes and then learn to clean up those mistakes was icing on the cake. It grounded the story and gave the characters a depth most teen novels don’t have. Obviously, we love a love story here at ILYAF but in this book, the fact that the love was secondary didn’t faze me. It’s exciting to see April’s character develop and mature over the three months she’s living alone and you almost don’t care who she winds up with in the end because that’s not the point. (I say almost though because that Hudson sounds fiiiine. Plus he has gobs of money from doing dirty things (maybe) and we can definitely appreciate a rich hottie.) The point is of course that throughout her time on her own, April grows up. She comes to terms with all the unnecessary and unwanted things in her life and learns to make new friends and give love a chance even if it isn’t comfortable or familiar. This book is a quick read and you won’t be disappointed.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 8. April gets serious points in my book for convincing her dad that she could live without her family for a school year. Girlfriend is clearly motivated and gets what she wants which is amazing for someone so young. She can only get better with age. She did lose some points however for sticking with her loser boyfriend, Noah, however nice and placid he may be.
How much did I like the love interest: I think there were 2 but I might be wrong because Noah rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s just say there was one and it was Hudson who gets a 10. He is model gorgeous, somehow has tons of expendable cash, and seems to love looking out for April. Plus he doesn’t push himself on her even though he knows Noah is a jerk.
How believable is the plot: 1. All joking aside, I never in a million years believe any parent would fall for the crap April and Vi pull. No way. It’s irresponsible parenting at its best and highly improbable at its worst. I just didn’t buy it no matter how funny it was.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Sarah Mlynowski is a fab writer. Her prose is witty and fast moving with a healthy dash of fluid dialogue in there for kick. And she’s funny too! Props for the awesome writing.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10 but only because I wanted more of what happened to April and Hudson and we don’t get anything out of their sizzling chemistry until the very, very end.
Final Score: 7.8 / 10.
Find it, buy it, read it. The cover should be enough to grab you and the story will make you stick around.