Okay, I'll admit it. Even though this book was recommended to me by at least two friends whose personal recommendations are never, ever wrong. . . . well, the title kind of scared me. It's just--awkward. But since I'm now a librarian and can order awkward teen books for myself on interlibrary loan without having to have awkward conversations with other librarians about it, I finally decided to go for it (because that's what a career in librarianship is really all about, right?).
And, oh! The title is supposed to be be awkward! It's funny! Because the narrator is this really self-deprecating, awkward, funny, high school girl. And now it's just hilarious to me. And I am so, so glad that I worked past the awkward to read this book, because I am IN LOVE with the narrative voice of Jessica Darling.
And also, I have intensely overused the word "awkward" in this post thus far.
The book begins in the middle of Jessica Darling's sophomore year at Pineville High School. Her best friend, Hope, has just moved away, and Jessica is feeling like her life is pretty much a hopeless abyss. I kind of loved Jessica right from the beginning. She is an honors student, incredibly intelligent, and pretty much hates everyone at her high school because she thinks they're all morons. And to be fair, her "friends" (Manda, Sara, Scotty, and to a certain extent, Bridget, do all behave that way). She fends off her angst by writing in her journal and, occasionally, going for runs in the middle of the night. I loved Jessica's sarcasm--she definitely speaks my language. But what else I loved is her self-awareness. She totally gets that while her best friend moving away is not actually the end of the world, it FEELS LIKE IT to her, and she embraces that. She's self-aware enough to know that her teen angst isn't the worst thing ever, but then she totally lets it wash over her anyway.... I remember actually feeling this was myself as a teenager. Like the little adult inside me would argue would logically say, "Okay, this isn't that bad. Tough it out." And then the raging hormones would go, "Eh, screw it, let's go eat some chocolate and write angsty stuff in a journal!" And Jessica is such a great picture of that.
Jessica strikes up an extremely unlikely friendship with Marcus Flutie, who is pretty much the classic "bad boy" of Pineville High. He's known for his drinking and drugging, and he's been with literally dozens of girls (whereas Jessica has only one awkward kiss to her name). Reading the raging conflict inside Jessica's head as she tries to puzzle out his intentions is just absolutely awesome. I'm not sure if everyone would appreciate Jessica Darling as much as I did, but she's is just right exactly up my alley.... completely in-her-own-head, snarky, and hilarious. I like to think that she and I would be great friends. I cannot wait to read the rest of this series and find out what happens to Jessica, Marcus, Hope, Bridget, and the rest.