Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

But I Won’t Cry For Yesterday, There’s An Ordinary World

Jenny gets real with a faerie book (?!), Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin.

But I Won’t Cry For Yesterday, There’s An Ordinary World

BOOK REPORT for Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

BFF Charm: Yay...?
Swoonworthy Scale: -5 +1
Talky Talk: 4 Real
Bonus Factor: Real Girls, Boston
Relationship Status: I'm Going To Introduce This Book To a Girl I Know...

The Deal:

Pheobe's family is rich. I'm not talking nouveau-riche-daddy-made-some-good-real-estate-investments-live-in-a-McMansion-rich. Real rich. Like generations rich. Which, of course, is great and all, but for Phoebe, it makes it hard for her to find a real friend-- someone who likes her for her (apart from her Nantucket friend, Benjamin, that is). So when Phoebe meets Mallory, she thinks she's found a friend for life.

Years pass, and Phoebe and Mallory ARE best friends. But that's before Mallory's heretofore unmentioned older brother Ryland shows up. Ryland has quite the effect on Phoebe-- which we know is bad news from the start, because, duh, his name is Ryland-- and soon she finds herself questioning not only her friendship with Mallory, but also her very self.

Then things get hella-worse when Phoebe discovers a mystical hand-me-down debt--left over from an ancestor-- that she is expected to pay, and realizes that very little in her life is what she thought it was. Faced with the worst kind of betrayal, will she be strong enough to change things for herself?

BFF Charm: Yay...?

I liked Phoebe, but girl has some serious self-confidence issues. I spent half the time wanting to give her a big-sister talk, and the other half just kind of wincing in her direction. She wasn't whiney or full of self-pity-- she was just genuinely lost in mindcuss that is the land of youth. I think YA girls might identify with her a lot more, but I was torn betwixt wanting to lay some truth-bombs on her and wanting to just casually... back... away...

Swoonworthy Scale: -5 +1

Ew. Ew, ew, ew. You know how when Buffy slept with Angel, and he lost his soul and became Angelus, tormenting her and her friends for a season, and how that was an analogy for the girl who sleeps with the boy and then he turns into an ass? Well, take that times 10, without all the awesome lead-up where Angel's actually nice and tortured and shirtless and cuddly. We the readers know Ryland's intentions from the beginning, and it is in no way swoonworthy. It's icky and gross and wrong.

But Benjamin gets the +1 for being so sweet.

Talky Talk: 4 Real

I picked this one up and started reading without having glanced at the back cover, so my first thought was 'Great, another damn faerie book'. However, Ms. Werlin's story is very much based in the dramas of real life. So much so that it is often an uncomfortable read. I do believe that this is the kind of book that might inspire a young girl with self-confidence just when she needs it most, and for that, I must give Werlin props. It felt real in the telling, too, avoiding the after-school-special feel, but I still felt a bit too old for it, and to paraphrase Dr. Henry Jones, by the time I (as an old) started to find it really interesting, it was over.

Bonus Factor: Real Girls

Okay, not THAT kind of real girl. All joking aside, and even though I didn't LOVE Phoebe, I did love the way Werlin wrote her. The fact that she wasn't gorgeous or skinny or super-smart or charming just drove home the larger implication: that knowing yourself is the coolest thing.

Bonus Factor: Boston

Phoebe lives outside of Boston, and speaks of it with the affection of a local. Not to mention Nantucket, one of the most special places on the eastern seaboard.

Casting Call:

Mae Whitman as Phoebe

I'd really like to see this book made into a movie, if she got to play Phoebe, because--and I can't believe I'm saying this, but-- I think watching Phoebe's struggles would be even more rewarding than reading about them.

Relationship Status: I'm Going To Introduce This Book To a Girl I Know

It wasn't love at first sight for us, but I think this book is so nice-- it's interesting and smart and totally deserves to find true love. So I'm going to introduce the book to this girl I know, because I think they really might be perfect for each other.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Extraordinary is now available.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
K