Friday, November 28, 2008

Fact of Life #31

Vega, Denise. 2008. Fact of Life #31.

Don't judge a book by it's cover. If you do, you might just miss a gem of a book like this one, Facts of Life #31. (Now I don't want to presume that every one will think this cover doesn't do the book justice, doesn't do the book justice. Yes, the cover makes sense after you read the book. But it doesn't scream out "read me, read me" either.)

I'll be honest, I don't know if I can do this book justice with my review. I love, love, love it. And the more I love a book, the more tongue-tied I become. Here's the basics: Kat Flynn, our heroine, is sixteen and frustrated with her mother. Her mom--not that she calls her mom--is Abra, a midwife whose feminine intuition is attuned to all of Colorado--with the exception of her own children Kat and Lucy. Kat's life consists of school--hanging with her best hat-wearing friend, Christy, crushing on classmate Manny Cruz, avoiding popular girl, Libby Giles, and being snarky with Libby's boyfriend, Mitch; work--she works at her mom's midwifery several days a week; hobbies--she loves to draw, especially murals, and training for a triathalon. She gets along well with her sister, Lucy, and her dad. It's her relationship with her mom, Abra, that complicates her life.

Friends. Family. Dating. School. Sounds pretty typical, doesn't it? But Kat is anything but typical. (And she's not one of those generically quirky heroines that are just as stereotypical as let's say cheerleaders or loners.) Kat and her entire circle of friends and family are complex individuals. I guess it was the depth and substance that surprised me most about this novel. That made it more than just enjoyable. I'm not saying this is the most perfect novel ever to have been published. I'm sure there are flaws somewhere--but the thing is that I loved Kat and her family so much that I just didn't care to go hunting for them. (Though I suspect that the hunt would start around Manny. He's the crush/boyfriend that I'm not quite sure I like or trust.) This one is a coming-of-age novel. Kat is on the journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance. It's also a story about first love--the bittersweetness, naivity, and wonder of it all.

In a way, this one reminds me of Dairy Queen and The Off Season though I'm not sure why my brain has made this leap. I suppose it is because of the depth of the characters--it's rare to fully explore family dynamics with such heart and soul and authenticity.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jen Robinson said...

I was just looking at this one on my shelf the other day, Becky. Thanks for encouraging me to read it.

gabbi hodge said...

i just finished reading this book, and i apsoultily loved it. i'm only 14 but i thought it was great! I TOTALLY AGREE on not trusting manny though..

Nina Dan said...

Hi, Becky. I have read this book about thirty times already, I absolutely LOVE IT!! I hope someday I can have a romantic and hot (but NOT as back-stabbing!) boyfriend like Manny. :D I'm only thirteen but EVERYTHING was GREAT in my opinion. It's a very touching story. <3

Maryum said...

I finished this book last night, and I absolutely LOVED it. But, I think you guys shouldn't be so hard on Manny. The guy made a mistake, he admitted it, and he fixed it. Kat has been crushing on him since 7th grade, and I think it is perfect that they are together now. He makes Kat happy, and she deserves that.