Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Sixteen-year-old Aggie Winchester couldn't care less about who's elected prom queen-even if it's her pregnant Goth-girl best friend, Sylvia Ness. Aggie's got bigger things to worry about, like whether or not her ex-boyfriend wants to get back together and whether her mom will survive cancer.

But like it or not, Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of an unfolding prom scandal, largely because her mom, who is the school's principal, is rumored to have burned prom ballots so Sylvia won't be elected queen. Aggie's own investigation makes her wonder if the election could be dirty on both sides.

And here's what I thought:   While I won't say this book was perfect, I enjoyed it, and found I was making time to keep reading (meaning, I chose to read instead of vacuuming, like I was supposed to).   As you can see from the summary, this is Aggie's story about not only her best friend, and her ex-boyfriend, but also about her relationship with her mom.   Of all of that, I found myself thinking about her relationship with her best friend, and how she thought about herself, to be the most interesting part of the book.

When we meet Aggie, she's 16 and her new best friend, Sylvia, is totally unlike all of her previous friends.   Sylvia's got a tough look, and a tough attitude, and she's a definite influence on Aggie, who has changed her look and attitude to match Sylvia's.   The question is, as always -- is the image that you show to the rest of the world what you're really like?   In this case, not necessarily (which probably doesn't surprise you).   Dressing in black, and using dark makeup makes Aggie feel like she's tough, and that she can't easily be hurt by other people --- and Sylvia is a part of this, too.   Sylvia's tough enough for the two of them, so it's easy to understand why Aggie gravitates to her.  However, as tough as Sylvia may be, she's got issues of her own -- and when she gets pregnant, it starts to become clear that she's not just tough, but kind of immature, and selfish ... and not a very good friend.

I suppose I found this element of the book to be interesting because I identified with it a bit.  When I was 17, I became friends with a girl who wasn't like any of my other friends; her skirts were shorter, she smoked, her attitude was tougher .... you get the drift.  And because I felt insecure about myself, especially around my other friends who always seemed prettier, and more self-assured, I started to hang out with this other girl.  And I felt tougher, and more secure.  At least, for a while.   Until, I discovered that she was selfish, and kind of immature and not a very good friend.    In this book, close to the end, Aggie says, "I studied Tiffany and thought about all the things I could say.  You were a bitch in ninth grade.  You lied and turned everyone against me.  I turned Goth because of you.  You got what you deserved here.  But I knew it wouldn't do any good.  People would always be jerks.  Life would also be imperfect.  Being Both or being a cheerleader didn't change any of it.  The point was not to let it change her."

What I wasn't so wild about was how quickly certain things seemed to be resolved, especially the ending, with her mother.   Mother-daughter relationships can be tricky -- sometimes, we love each other and sometimes, we can't stand each other .... and things aren't always resolved between those two feelings in a nice and neat way.   I didn't feel the ending was that believable.   However, since believing that this whole story was completely realistic wasn't in the cards for me, anyway, I found I still enjoyed the book.   I'm giving this a 3, but if I had a 3.5, that would be the correct rating (it's not quite at a four, but it was a good enough read).

First lines: I pushed open my car door and stepped straight into a puddle of ice and slush.  Fat, wet snowflakes fell like rain.  I raised my hand and extended my middle finger toward the sky.  The universe could suck it for creating March in Minnesota as far as I was concerned.

Thoughts on the cover art:  I think the photo is a good choice, especially since this girl is looking into the distance -- definitely fits the story.


Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

While it doesn't sound like the read for me, it definitely seems like a good read.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I had mixed impressions of this book too. There seemed to be a little too much stuffed in so not everything received the treatment I thought it deserved but it was a good read and I enjoyed my time spent.

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