Saturday, August 31, 2019

She's the Worst by Lauren Spieller

Title: She’s The Worst
Author: Lauren Spieller
Publication: Simon & Schuster, hardcover, September 2019
Genre: YA
Plot: Sisters April and Jenn haven’t been close in years. Jenn’s too busy with school, the family antique shop, and her boyfriend, and April would rather play soccer and hang out with the boy next door.

But when April notices her older sister is sad about staying home for college, she decides to do something about it. The girls set off to revive a pact they made as kids: spend an epic day exploring the greatest hits of their childhood and all that Los Angeles has to offer.

Then April learns that Jenn has been keeping a secret that could rip their family—and their feuding parents—apart. With only one day to set things right, the sisters must decide if their relationship is worth saving, or if the truth will tear them apart for good.

Giveaway: Win one of two finished copies (8/28-9/16/19, US only) here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Favorite Quotes: April: “Maybe I was listening,” I tell Jenn, “but it’s only because you were so sneaky.” When she doesn’t stop glaring at me, I add, “I could barely hear anyway.”

April: “Jenn started talking about how she wanted to go away to college even though she’d only just graduated from middle school. Back then she wanted to go to Michigan or Illinois or something, which I remember thinking was really far. Like, why not go to Antarctica while you’re at it? But then she got very serious all of a sudden, and said we should promise each other that in four years, when she was leaving for college, we’d spend the entire day together. Just us. To, you know, say goodbye. So we did a pinkie swear . . . and that was it.”

April: Nate’s voice sneaks its way into the back of my mind. Don’t assume the worst. This might work out if you give it a chance. I take a deep breath, and try my best to put my faith into Nate’s imaginary advice. Tomorrow is going to be good. Better than good. It’s going to be great. I’m going to get my sister back. I just have to give her – give us – a chance.

Jenn: I don’t know what surprises me more. That April remembered the pact we made as kids, or that she actually wanted to do it.

Jenn: I know April’s mad, but even though she doesn’t understand why I did what I did, surely she can see how important this is to me. How badly I need to get away. How sick I am of being in charge of everything, how much I hate constantly taking care of Mom and Dad, how sometimes my life here makes me want to scream –

Jenn: Except there's also another possibility.  They could listen.  If that happens, then they'll know the truth.  They'll be forced to start it in the face and grapple not only with how they've been making me feel, but how dysfunctional things are between them.  I know that's the whole point of telling them - to clear the air so we can fix things.  But sitting here, watching them make dinner, I'm not sure I can do it.  I've spent so long keeping the peace between them.  If I shatter it now and everything falls apart, it'll be my fault.
Author Lauren Spieller (Dave Cross Photography)
My Impressions: This is a very readable and convincing story, which explores the complications of family over slightly more than a day.  Jenn and April are about as different as sisters can be, and Spieller captures the dynamics of sibling relationships, the miscommunications and distorted memories of the same events, as well as how good intentions can go awry. It was particularly poignant how some of April’s recollections of things she had done with Jenn were incomplete: for example, the Ferris Wheel ride that April remembered as magical had actually ended with her vomiting on her sister. As the sisters grew apart in adolescence, there were faults on both sides.  There wasn't much romance (two very unsatisfactory male characters offset by a very sweet boy next door) but it was refreshing to have the focus of a YA book be on the family relationships.

The sisters in my family were all more like Jenn than April, organized, academically focused, and goal-oriented, so I identified more with Jenn and was exasperated with her parents. I was impressed that Jenn filled out all the financial aid forms for Stanford on her own. Jenn’s and April’s parents were over the top awful. Ignoring their inability to stop arguing in front of their children and customers, their poor business skills, their neglect of April and insensitivity to Jenn, they lack any kind of thought for their children’s future. Even if they had good reasons to insist that Jenn stay close to home for college (and finances could have been one of them), the idea that someone should turn down Stanford to attend community college seemed absurd.   (It's also implausible that Jenn could have gotten so close to college move-in day without having paid her room and board - I hate loose ends like this.)

Purchase Links: IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Amazon * iTunes * Book Depository

Off the Blog: It is Labor Day weekend and I am filling out my Summer Reading Bingo card. Aren’t you glad summer reading isn’t just for children?

Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking here.

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