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Red Versus Blue

Take a break from our real/crazy Presidential election to check in with a slightly-less-crazy Presidential election in The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne. #FictionalCandidatesForTheWin!

Red Versus Blue

BOOK REPORT for The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne 
 
Cover Story: All-American Stock Photo
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Fact-Checker
Bonus Factors: Politics, Kickass Gram Award
Anti-Bonus Factors: Politicians, Awful Grown Ups
Relationship Status: You Have My Vote
 
Cover Story: All-American Stock Photo

I was fine with the American flag background, since this IS about politics. But the cover totally lost me with the teenagers, who look nothing like Kate and Andy. For one thing, Kate would never be allowed to wear those shorts on the campaign trail, and from what I know of Andy, he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a chambray button-down. Also, as the children of powerful men who are being scrutinized by the public, they would most definitely have hairstylists on retainer who know how to brush hair.

Nice try, stock photo, but you’re not winning this one.

The Deal:

Let’s talk about Kate’s year. Her mom died tragically in a car accident, leaving her orphaned, which meant she had to move from California to South Carolina to stay with her last remaining distant relatives, leaving her friendless. The summer between junior and senior year is stretching out in front of her, full of, well, nothing, until she comes home after her last AP test and finds news vans all over her yard.

Turns out, Kate is the illegitimate daughter of the Republican presidential candidate, Senator Mark Cooper, and no one knew until a confidential source leaked it to The New York Times. Faced with a scandal that could bring his campaign to its knees, the Senator does the only thing that makes sense: acknowledge Kate and bring her into the family to pose for photo ops. Suddenly, Kate goes from having no family to being a step-daughter to a smart professor, sister to eight-year-old twins, and daughter to an election automaton.

Life on the campaign trail isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (just ask anyone on the Clinton/Trump campaigns right now), but Kate is making the best of it by trying to get to know her new family, having secret rendezvouses with the President’s son (aka the ENEMY), and navigating the ups and downs (and there’s always way more downs) of her first Presidential election.

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

Poor Kate. She’s a veritable cornucopia of emotions; just when you thought you’d gotten your fill, there’s always more drama hiding away in the back. Once she gets over the shock of a famous father, Kate is elated to discover she still has a family, and my heart went out to her more than once for the vulnerable position she was in. There were moments when I wanted her to stand up for herself, to ask those adults around her the tough questions, but also I know that if I was in her high heels (and her age), I would’ve been just as go-with-the-flow (especially with someone like Elliot throwing eye-daggers towards me). Kate felt like a real teenager—though perhaps more polite than most—and the growth she made throughout the novel rang authentic. 
 
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Andy is a typical politician’s kid, growing up in the political-jungle of Washington and constantly in the limelight. It’s his second Presidential election, and he’s. So. Over. It. When Kate shows up, all fresh-faced, politics-free, and the only age-appropriate girl around, it’s no wonder he falls for her. For her part, Kate initially dismisses Andy as the bad-boy heartthrob (her only friend in South Carolina had his picture up in her locker and ohbeautifulblondtanboysyawn), but if there’s anything we know about YA, it’s that it’s tough for a “good” girl to resist a “bad” boy (at least in print).

Kate’s burgeoning relationship with Andy was a nice break from the political drama, but it didn't play center stage; instead, the crux of the book had to do with Kate figuring out if she could fit in with this uptight, nuclear family than finding romance, and, in light of everything going on around her, that made perfect sense.
 
Talky Talk:
Fact-Checker

Thorne crafted a solid look at the inside of a presidential election from a teenager’s perspective. You’ll spot familiar trope characters if you ever watched any political drama shows, and some of the shenanigans could have come out of our current election (though I daresay the book election is incredibly tame compared to our actual one, UNFORTUNATELY. Who knew we’d be longing for a boring election cycle?).

I was curious to see if the author’s political leanings would come into play, but she seemed to do a good job at maintaining impartiality. Republicans and Democrats alike played the system, sent out attacking press releases, and generally acted like public service was a right, not a privilege. There were some examples of good politicians, or at least of somewhat good intentions, but, what’s that old saying? Oh, right, the road to hell…

Bonus Factor: Politics

There wasn’t a lot of in-depth discussion of Senator Cooper’s platforms, but immigration policy in particular played a large role in pushing forward the plot, thanks to Kate’s BFF from California, Penny Diaz, coming from a family of illegal immigrants. Like most hot-button issues, there was no right or wrong, one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, but it was nice to see it touched upon, as politics in YA isn’t usually a “thing”. While there’s a lot wrong with today’s politics, it never hurts for young people to become more informed citizens.

Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram Award

Evelyn is one of those grandmas that everyone needs: someone who takes no nonsense, can bail you out when things are tough, and unhesitatingly offers you a bed when you need it. 

Anti-Bonus Factor: Politicians

Ugh, is there anyone worse? (Okay, when there’s such degenerates like serial killers and domestic abusers out there, yes, but I’d wager politicians are a close third.) I cringed so many times Mark voiced an opinion that seemed more like it came from helping out his donors than truly being a public servant, or when he did his politician smile, or basically whenever one of his staffers made Kate feel inferior because she wasn’t doing something that voters would expect of a “nice young lady”. Go take a short walk off a long pier, election staff.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grownups

Thank goodness there were sensible human beings like Lou and Meg for Kate to interact with, because the majority of the adults in this book were shitty, shitty people. Love ya, Lou!

Casting Call:

Margaret Qualley as Kate Quinn

Lucas Till as Andy Lawrence

Lucas couldn’t use a Southern drawl for this role, but he’s got the look down.

Patrick Dempsey as Mark Cooper

He needed bright blue eyes and a killer smile. I'm not gonna lie, the hardest part of this Google search was picking just one photo.

Jessica Tuck as Meg Cooper

Jessica looks like she can be tough and ruthless but also knows how to be professional and diplomatic. The perfect candidate's wife.

Jessica Chastain as Nancy Oneida

There was a lot of mention of how red-headed Nancy was gorgeous and chic, and my mind jumped to Ms. Chastain.

Bradley Whitford as Elliot Webb

Bradley isn't quite who I pictured in my head for Elliot, but I couldn't find a perfect match (all I know is he needs big, bushy, glowering eyebrows like Muppet Sam the Eagle); however, I think Bradley can certainly rise to the challenge of playing a douchecanoe.

Relationship Status: You Have My Vote

While there may be liars within your pages, Book, you’ve never lied to me! We connected about social issues, got to know each other on an emotional level, and I really believe you fight for the little guy to be heard. You can count on my vote of support any time.
 
FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Penguin Random House. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Wrong Side of Right is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.