A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main plot here involves a girl's attempt to get her life back together after her first real boyfriend breaks up with her. She recounts kissing him, and even a night when he asked her not to go home. Characters swear, and there are also some scenes in which teens -- including the protagonist -- drink. Parents can use this book to talk about relationships -- including how
media portrays teen romance versus what most of these relationships are
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jen's family and friends try to cheer her up after she's dumped by the school newspaper editor; her grandmother even gives her a cheesy self-help book. But Jen remains heartbroken, especially after she discovers Max is now going out with a ditzy girl who works on the school paper with them. Her life slowly gets better, thanks to her involvement in a controversial article -- and a realization that Max wasn't as perfect for her as she thought.
Is it any good?
Some lovely writing and a colorful supporting cast breathe realism into this likable novel about a girl getting over her first heartbreak. Readers will relate to sad Jen, a driven school newspaper editor who now has to work closely with the boy who just broke up with her. They will also like her colorful family, which includes a foul-mouthed younger brother obsessed with hip-hop culture and a wacky grandmother who gives her an over-the-top self-help novel.
On the other hand, readers may tire of how long it takes Jen to get over Max, and they may not know what to make of The Breakup Bible (which instructs Jen to cut out inspirational messages such as "Mr. Wrong is in the garbage where he belongs" and "I complete me.") Also, the story line in which Jen writes a controversial newspaper article about race relations at her high school seems to come out of nowhere -- though it does energize her, and help her draw an important conclusion about Max. Ultimately, the author hits the right chord: Jen takes time getting over Max, but she also learns to take charge of her own life. Readers will cheer her on as she lands an important internship -- and even flirts with trying love again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how teen relationships are portrayed in media, from TV to books. What are some of the cliches -- and how do they shape expectations of what relationships are actually like?
What do you imagine a good relationship to be like, and how does that compare to relationships you've been in, or seen friends in?