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Not So Cruel Intentions

What happens when your idol turn out to be less than idolicious?

Not So Cruel Intentions

BOOK REPORT for Intentions by Deborah Heiligman

Cover Story: Stained Glass Big Face
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Stream of Consciousness
Bonus Factor: Judaism
Relationship Status: Freshman Tag-along

Cover Story: Stained Glass Big Face

Hey big face model! I'm not sure what you're up to, besides listening to a close talker while having stained class photoshopped on your face, but I'm pretty sure it is HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE for temple. Also, tone down the eyeliner, young lady.

The Deal:

I remember the day I found out that Ann M. Martin didn't actually write all of the BSC books. I was DEVASTATED. (I was also, like, 10 years old, so I had zero grasp of the concept of ghostwriting.) She had fueled my dreams of becoming an author, but how could I respect a writer who took credit for someone else's work? What else was she lying to me about? Maybe New York City wasn't as cool as Stacey claimed! Maybe Logan and Mary Anne weren't meant to be together?! What if all of the baby-sitting tips I'd picked up from the club were ALL WRONG and I accidentaly KILLED A CHILD?  COULD I EVER TRUST ANYONE AGAIN?

I guess, at some point in adolescence, we each have a moment where our idol is knocked from his/her pedestal. For me, it was discovering Ann M. Martin's army of ghostwriters. For Rachel Greenberg, it's catching her Rabbi having sex with a woman (who is not his wife) in the temple. Both of us were shocked, apalled and frankly lost without our role models. But whereas I moved on to Carolyn Keene, who obvs wrote ALL of her books, Rachel didn't make such an easy comback from the loss of her innocence. The poor girl's already dealing with the disintegration of her parents' marriage and the decline of her grandmother's health, not to mention the fact that her best friend, Alexis, has turned into a psychotic biotch. Without the Rabbi for guidance, Rachel doesn't know where to turn, and even the attention from Jake, her crush, doesn't seem to fill the gaping hole where her faith used to be. As her world spins out of control, Rachel must decide how to make the right decisions by herself, but can she even trust her own intentions?

BFF Charm:  Nay

Rachel feels like a v. realistic teenager, which means I'm not exactly dying to hang out with her. She's hormonal and emotionally erratic, and she is constantly screwing up. But she really does mean well, and if I had gone through the shizzstorm that she does, I'd probably be a hot mess too. But I think the thing that most bothered me about Rachel wasn't her teenagery-ness, it was her total lack of a backbone when it came to Alexis, her bestie. Alexis is HEINOUSLY AWFUL to her, but Rachel just keeps putting up with it instead of standing up for herself. Again, I can see this as a realistic high school scenario, but it didn't mean I had to enjoy it. Like, anytime they were together, I seriously wanted to slap BOTH of them. At least I would have apologized afterwards to Rachel, because she is definitely trying to be a better human being. (But that doesn't mean she's invited to my next slumber party.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

So Rachel has a mega crush on Jake, her childhood sweetheart who recently moved back to town. She describes his muscular swimmer's back IN DETAIL, which I really appreciated, and they share some nice smooches. But I never felt caught up in their romance, partially because Rachel has so much shizz going on, and also because she does something V. STUPID that I will not spoil for you but UGH. There's also Adam, the Rabbi's son, who I'm guessing was supposed to be the "bad boy" of the book but really just comes off as sad and gross.

Talky Talk: Stream of Consciousness

Being inside Rachel's brain made me uncomfortable, because she is so distinctly teen-aged. She's impulsive and melodramatic and irrational, and frankly, I found her flurry of thoughts exhausting. But I have to give Heiligman props for the realism! The dialogue, however, did not feel nearly as authentic, and there were too many times when the voices of the characters all sounded the same. I also could have done without the cringe-worthy last chapter, which is basically an epilogue that wraps everything up WAY too neatly. Why do authors feel the need to include epilogues? HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM SUZANNE COLLINS?

Bonus Factor: Judaism

My favorite aspect of the book was learning more about the culture and traditions of Judaism. Being Jewish is a huge part of Rachel's identity, and its influences were effectively woven into the story. And now I'm seriously jonesing for some fresh baked challah.

Casting Call:

Xenia Goodwin as Rachel

I'm sorry, Xenia, but you're just too good at playing an insecure, melodramatic teenager.

Relationship Status: Freshman Tag-along

Look, book. You've got a good heart, and I think it's awesome that your Judaism is so important to you. However, you're really young, and I think it's time you started making friends with readers closer to your age. Yeah, yeah, I know you think it's cool to hang with older kids, but there's a lot you need to learn before you can party with us. We're too old to remember what it's like to be a crazy emotional teenager, but I have no doubt that younger readers will totally understand and appreciate you. P.S. SENIORS RULE.

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

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).