Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Anatomy of a Misfit

Anatomy of a Misfit
Andrea Portes
3.5 / 5

Published 2014

First Sentence
"Pedaling fast fast fast, this is the moment."
Publisher's Description:
Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school.

Inside, she's a freak. A mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA. After all, her father is from Romania. Everyone else in Nebraska is about as American as an apple pie . . . wrapped in a flag . . . on the Fourth of July.

Spider stew. That's what Anika is made of. But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauser, first most popular girl in school, will make her life a living hell.

So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can't get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life?

Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it...?

Logan. Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates?


Andrea Portes's emotionally devastating debut YA novel lays bare the futility in pretending to be something we're not and the value in finally celebrating all that we are—inside.

Dear Reader,

Whoah. This book took me in so many directions. I was loving it at first, then meh, then I laughed, then I cried...but, ultimately, what I liked most about it was that it was kind of an anthem for high school, one which tries to point out (as many have before) that we shouldn't let the popular kids dictate what we do and who we like. And yet...I don't know how well that lesson is ever really learned IN high school. After? Of course. But, during? These kids are stuck in a forced social environment for 40+ hours each week. Of course they are going to be affected by what their peers think, and how they fit into the social hierarchy. They don't understand how little it will matter later - they haven't gotten to "later" yet. It sucks, but that is real life.

But, I digress. Let me first say why I even picked up this book: it was the Big Library Read offered by Overdrive, which means that while normal Overdrive selections are limited to a certain number of checkouts (and thus you are often relegated to a hold list), this book was available to as many people wanted to read it, anytime - I think the concept was that it would foster a sort of community book club type thing. This lasted for the month of October; of course, I was too slow to get to the book "on time", but I still wanted to check out what all the fuss was about.

I'll admit, I am a sucker for some good high school fiction, be it in book or movie form. Which is funny, because I'm not really into YA in a big way - I just like taking a look at the battleground that was secondary school, especially now that the scars are long healed over & I can view it all with some distance. I guess I find it fascinating, like an anthropology study. That, and I also enjoy me some good pop culture, for sure! So this book was a good cross between Mean Girls and Heathers - and, it did NOT advertise this in the least, but it took place in the '80s! It was so understated; I kept second-guessing myself, but the lack of electronic devices and the cultural references resting solidly in 30+ years ago resolved the issue for me. I liked that (understated) aspect of the book, and Anika's smart and snarky demeanor - she reminded me in many ways of Veronica Mars. She saw through people's facades and really tried to be a good person. But she could really get on your nerves at times, too, with her inner commentary and the way things unfolded. I just guess that despite this being a theme of every single worth-its-salt '80s movie, I still don't buy "the girl who everyone overlooked until some 'totally hot' guy thought she was worth his time" - that's not how life works. Eh. It was still a good book in that while that unlikely scenario DID play wasn't, ultimately, the meat of the story. While this book had an ending that, again, was reminiscent of Mean Girls (much self-reflection in front of the entire student body), it was still well done and brought tears to my eyes for those who don't make it out of high school nearly as unscathed.

One thing I am left wondering about: was the title a reference that I entirely missed? I kept thinking "Anatomy of a Murder", but I highly doubt this book was referencing a Jimmy Stewart movie from the sixties - the only connection being that both involved high school students, if I recall correctly? I keep thinking this must be an allusion to an album title that I not recalling...please, Reader, help me out if you have any ideas! Because otherwise I CANNOT figure out why this book was so titled.

Anyway, hey - the BLR did get me talking, though, didn't it? Which I guess was the entire point. Thanks, Overdrive!


Anatomy of a Misfit

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