Cover of manicpixiedream girl. Two giant teen faces, male and female

About the Book

Title: Manicpixiedreamgirl
Published: 2013

Cover Story: Why Bother to Use Your Imagination?
Drinking Buddy:
Nice Glass of Whine
PG-13 (Drug use, sexuality, language)
Talky Talk:
We’ve All Been There
Bonus Factors:
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, She’s Too Good For Me, Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bromance Status:
I’m Married Now

Cover Story: Why Bother to Use Your Imagination?

Giant teen faces again. Thanks. Now I don’t have to use my brain to create a mental image of Ty and Becky because there they are. Right on the cover. That’s what they look like.

Hopefully they’ll make this book into a movie one day, so we’ll be spared the difficulty of reading.

The Deal:

Ty Darcy has been obsessed with Becky Webb since he first saw her eating animal crackers when they were freshmen. Though he knows very little about her, he does know this: he’s in love, and hard. He volunteers to run lights for the drama club, just so he can be near her. He writes long, passionate stories, with Becky as the heroine. He’s become a laughingstock to his friends, who view his stalking as pathetic. And while he does manage to cultivate a friendship with Becky, he’s trapped in the friendzone. And the more he learns about her and her home life, the more he realizes she really does need a friend. Hopefully, a naked friend.

Oh, one more thing. Ty has a girlfriend, Sydney. She views Ty’s crush on Becky with paranoid amusement. And she’s a wonderful girl, Ty should just be happy with her. Right. RIGHT?

Drinking Buddy: Nice Glass of Whine

Two pints of beer cheersing

Now Ty is willing to do anything to be around Becky, including working the lights at a production of To Kill a Mockingbird (which he ends up enjoying). But the one thing he can’t bring himself to do is actually ask her out. Just call her up and ask her if she wants to do something. And by the time he’s comfortable around her, it’s too late, they’re friends. Hey, no one to blame but himself, right?

Still, a lot of us know where he’s coming from. The more you’re into a girl, especially in high school, the harder it is to ask her out. Like, when you’re fifteen and awkward and this wonderful crazy girl starts talking to you out of the blue, and you just can’t wait to see her every day in English, but you’re afraid to ask her out and she’d probably say no, and besides you’re not a Mormon so she probably wouldn’t be allowed to date you anyway and then one day you’re at the movies with your friends and there she is in the row in front of you, yelling advice to the movie characters but she’s there with some douche who isn’t that much better looking than you and then some dick usher gets on your case because your ticket is for Wayne’s World instead of the R-rated Lawnmower Man, which was a shitty movie anyway.

It’s a universal story.

Talky Talk: We’ve All Been There

Now Becky is not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the usual Zoey Deschanel sense. In fact, only Sydney sarcastically refers to her in that way. But in Ty’s fantasy world, she’s all that and more. And his universe comes crashing down when he realizes that the real Rebecca Webb and his fantasy girl Becky are two very different people. Fantasy Becky is brilliant. So why is real Becky failing all her classes? Fantasy Becky is good. So why does real Becky smoke dope? Fantasy Becky is pure. So why do all the drama club guys wink and nudge each other when her name is mentioned?

Ty begins to realize that Becky is in a bad place, and wants to help her. He knows that if she’d just let him in, he could save her. But unfortunately, her problems are complex, and it’s not a matter of riding in on a white horse and punching some jackass in the mouth. You can’t solve someone else’s problems for them.

Like when she calls you up at two in the morning and you have to teach the next day, but she’s sobbing and upset with her boyfriend, so you take a cab all the way out to God damned Cuautlancingo, and she sits on the couch and cries about how bad her boyfriend treats her, and you so want to tell her that you’d be good to her, but you’re too nice a guy to try to take advantage of her, and then that weekend she’s back with that same jerk because he plays college ball and you’re never going to measure up and then two weeks later this same episode repeats itself.

We’ve all been there.

MPAA: PG-13 (Drug use, sexuality, language)

Not a lot of action in this book, but Ty’s three-year hard on for Becky means there’s a lot of male hormones here. It would be sad, but that is kind of what drives the male species.

Like when you’re broke so you arrange for a friend of a friend to be your roommate and she turns out to be the most drop dead gorgeous person you’ve ever met in your twenty-five years, but she’s dating this jerk who hits on everything with a pulse including your own ex-girlfriend, and one day she catches him cheating and you realize that this is your chance at long last, but the next night he shows up at the apartment window with a damn mariachi band and you know she’s out there at the window staring down and him and all is forgiven, while you sit in your room, staring at that same fucking Mark McGwire poster and vaguely pondering if you should finally write that YA book you’ve been kicking around in your head.

It’s a plot that’s been done to death.

Bonus Factor: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Cover of a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with James Joyce's face

Ty is an aspiring author, and uses Becky as his muse. And writing hopeless romances about his dream girl is just fine. Unless, of course, one of them ends up published. And everyone sees it. Including his girlfriend.

Bonus Factor: She’s Too Good For Me

Betty Cooper of Archie comics

So, yeah, Ty has a girlfriend. Sydney is smart, beautiful, talented, and puts up with Ty’s obvious crush with a combination of indifference and blatant threats against Becky. And she’s not adverse to a little one on one shirt removal. So why isn’t that enough for Ty? Why doesn’t he stick with the wonderful, non-messed-up girl in his life, instead of pining over the girl he can never have?

Answer: Because he’s a boy.

Bonus Factor: Midsummer Night’s Dream

FYA's Brian as Oberon

King of the fairies.

The first time Ty sees Becky perform in a play, it’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. She plays Mustardseed, which becomes his nickname for her. Awww…

Also thought I’d mention that I’ve been in that play. Twice.

Bromance Status: I’m Married Now

Well, now I’m married to the most beautiful, smartest girl in the world, so I have no need for this book anymore. But I’ll always treasure the time I spent reading it, and hope, secretly, that it’s also as happy as I am. Maybe a little less.

FTC Full Disclosure: Random House gave me a free copy. It was not, as I suggested, wrapped in a layer of 100 euro banknotes.

No, I’m not drunk!

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.