Finally is a companion book to Wendy Mass's 11 Birthdays. Both books are set in Willow Falls. Both books feature "the old lady with the duck birthmark on her cheek," Angelina D'Angelo. Both books reveal Angelina's "thing" about birthdays. Did I enjoy Finally as much as I enjoyed 11 Birthdays? Probably not.
Rory Swenson, our heroine, is something. Before she turns twelve, she's a bit on the whining side. She has a list of twenty-two things she wants to do when she turns twelve. Eleven are supposedly big things; eleven are supposedly little things. Because Rory lives in Willow Falls, because Rory catches the attention of a certain old lady, none of the things on her list will go well for her...at all.
Rory truly is unlucky in Finally. All of these unlucky circumstances point back to Angelina in some ways, but not all ways. I have to believe that we still get to know the real Rory in spite of all the misfortune. She happens to learn that she's allergic to certain plant-based cosmetics. Her face swells up in a horrid reaction. She happens to learn that she's allergic to gold when she pierces her ears. Again another allergic reaction. She happens to scratch her eye when trying to get her first pair of contacts out which leads her to having to wear an eye patch until it heals. She happens to do some serious damage to one of her legs while shaving for the first time. She happens to lose her cell phone within ten or fifteen minutes of buying it with her dad. The list goes on and on and on.
Rory's humiliations catch the notice of a certain movie star, a teen celebrity, that, of course, just happens to be filming at her very school in Willow Falls. Thirty extras are needed for the film, and Rory and her friends--some new friends, some old friends--are chosen, of course.
Everything, or almost everything, that happens in Finally is for Rory's ultimate good, or, so we're led to believe. Rory's trials are transforming her life for the better. Her misfortune is bringing new friends into her life. These friendships and relationships are life-changing.
Finally was an entertaining read. In my opinion, the Willow Falls series isn't supposed to be taken seriously as realistic fiction. That was perhaps a little more obvious in 11 Birthdays with the reliving-the-same-day-eleven-times plot. But it's true here as well. The town is far from ordinary, and its citizens are touched--some more than others--by hints of spells, curses, and magic.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews