Confession: I am thinking about querying Mandy Hubbard, the author of this book who is also an agent. I saw that she was interested in MG with magical realism, and my current WIP has a dash of it. With this in mind I've thought it would be beyond rude to query her without reading her work. Rude and maybe dumb.
Because she is high on my query list I was also nervous about reading her-- What if I didn't like it? What if I didn't get her humor? (and then, by extension she wouldn't get mine?)
Big sigh of relief.
I really liked the book and it was very funny! In fact, some elements were so funny that when I described them to my husband even he cracked up. If you've ever tried to explain a funny YA moment to a guy, you may know they don't always translate. This did.
Tiny synopsis: Kayla is so over it. So over everything. Her mom forces her to have a big, blow-out, pink extravaganza of a sweet sixteen party, though she's told her she doesn't want it. Kayla knows it's not even about her, it's about her mom's event planning business. Why should she be forced to attend a party filled only with her mom's clients? When she blows out the candles on the giant cake she wishes that, just for once, her birthday wishes would come true. The problem is, the next morning they do. It's enough to have to figure out how to keep a life-sized My Little Pony from ruining her mom's garden, or trying to entertain living Raggedy Ann and Ken dolls. It's last year's wish that's really worrying Kayla. Last year she wished Ben would kiss her, and now Ben is her best friend's boyfriend. She has to find a way to stop the wishes before last year's comes true.
I'm smiling just writing the synopsis. There were some deliciously funny moments in this book- I think Raggedy Ann was my favorite wish-- she was hilarious (and also made me feel a little bad about the dolls I have tucked into the attic! Are they lonely up there?)
Okay, I will try to talk about this book in a way that doesn't spoil it.
This book has the funny undercurrent of all of these wacky wishes coming true, and I was so nervous, waiting each day to see what crazy thing would happen next. It was creative and fun and also terribly funny.
But there is also this other story, about Kayla and her best friend and how they are growing apart-- and the take she has on it was incredibly real and so good. The push and pull you feel when a friend sort of blossoms in her own identity even if it is different from you, even if it may change or end your relationship.
Really loved it.
Especially because it was different. Friends splitting apart is a common YA theme, and recently I've read a couple of books where characters go from "best friends" to "ultra mean-girl enemies" in the course of a summer or a weekend. I think that's because it happens in real life, emotions run strong in high school. But it also feels like "the template".
As in, need drama, must "insert frenemies here" without thinking about how the characters would truly experience something like that. Maybe it's a reflection of reality. Or maybe teen girls are just operating from the template books, movies, and tv places in front of them, without really thinking about how they feel.
Confession (*gasp*): Even I have written something like that!
This was such a different take. It felt very real and honest. Loved it.
Please note: I am not just kissing *ss because I want to query her. I like her book, she still may not like mine. I'm okay with that.