Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crazy Beautiful, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I am about to be snotty and pretentious:

Reading so much YA this year has given me some opinions on quality. Not all YA is created equal (duh it's the same with books for grownups, I know that). But some YA titles I have read are amazing, unforgettable, beautifully written, with not enough superlatives to describe them (like Speak, The Chosen One, If I Stay, Goldengrove, How I Live Now, etc) and some YA titles have these amazing premises that make me want to make paper chains to count down until their release dates and then I finally get them and go "meh". It's a huge let down. Especially when I start imagining that if Laurie Halse Anderson or Francine Prose had been writing the same premise things would be incredibly different. The "meh" I'm talking about is different than the "meh" for fluffy, light, relaxing titles that fulfill my need for bath tub reading material and help me relax, unwind, and forget my stresses. I'm talking about books that are serious and that have intriguing plot elements and characters but still manage to fall flat. They remind me that I am actually an adult and make me wonder if I should stop haunting the Teen section of Barnes and Noble because I'm just too old for it....

Which I know isn't fair to say. I know that I'm wrong in insinuating that a YA book I feel is not up to snuff should be fine for the actual teens to read but just not me. I fully subscribe to Walter de la Mare's thought, “Only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young."

So I liked the premise for Crazy Beautiful and there really wasn't anything bad about it. I just had much higher expectations for the story. To me the characters often sounded like they were reading lines directly from episodes of Dr. Phil's show. They were preachy, hollow, and fake. It made me sad because I was so excited to read this book and I was thrilled to find it in the store before its release date. I do love the cover art, the hot pinkness of the actual book under the cover, and the initial idea. I also liked this line: "That is, I think, what it must mean to be human: to want something good for someone else." (p.126).

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