#63 Crapometer

Young adult chick lit in email/instant message format.



After a two-week family reunion on the cape, sixteen-year-old MACY flies home to the Midwest and emails DYLAN, a seventeen-year-old native Cape Cod surfer. Macy and Dylan have promised, after their heated summer romance, that they will "wait" for each other. Macy's best friend, KATJA, feigns support, concerned about the possibility of Macy's long distance relationship. When Dylan finally e's Macy back, Katja points out his less-than-sincere tone. Macy is not oblivious to this, but assures Katja that Dylan is different, privately welcoming the drama. With the death of Macy's grandmother, her mom's recent mid-life crisis, and her parents' inevitable divorce, Macy ponders whether anyone can ever live a happy and fulfilled life anyway.

Dylan slowly invests himself in the relationship, bringing his own issues to the table. An old flame cries "baby!" which forces Dylan to vacillate between his heart and his head. His father insists he spend less time surfing, and more time working. In addition, his father's Ivy League expectations and his stepmom's shallow indulgences don't mesh with anything Dylan believes… everything his deceased mother stood for.

Macy misinterprets Dylan's slow pace and aggressive tone for disinterest, and resumes dating, even though she would rather be with Dylan. She also lands the lead in the school play, OUR TOWN. As Macy begins to find meaning in the lines, she shares them with Dylan, who learns that these very lines were some of his mother's own life truths.

Meanwhile, the baby is on its way, and Dylan must make some tough decisions. He is wowed by the poetic verses Macy emails to him, wowed by her artistic talents, and realizes that--WOW--he's in love with her. He makes a plan with best friend, SMASH, to take a road trip and surprise Macy, by sitting in the audience for her performance. What he sees instead, is Macy making out backstage with another guy.

In addition, Dylan's dad and stepmom are now expecting their own baby. Dylan hates his life more than ever. He's heartbroken and angry, and tries to avoid the pain by writing off his relationship with Macy and concentrating on the child who may or may not be his, despite his father's wish for him to sever all ties with the baby and her mother.

Macy is mad at Katja for being "right" about Dylan, and spends a lonely holiday season between her parents' two homes. She doubts she'll ever be able to afford to get back to the cape anyway, so she unleashes venomous, melodramatic attacks on Dylan via email/instant message/phone. Because she's miserable and feeling abandoned, she indulges in some unhealthy behaviors, one of which breaks her promise to Dylan. She knows immediately it is all wrong, because she still loves Dylan.

Smash encourages Dylan to either date other girls and forget the "psycho bitch" or just come out and tell Macy he loves her, but Dylan says he can't. After several weeks, Macy tricks Dylan into speaking to her again. Dylan tells Macy there's no such place as "Our Town". Life is more complicated than Grover's Corners and he believes happiness is surely there for the taking. After figuring out the child is not his, Dylan makes progress toward finding his own happiness, daring Macy to do the same. He tells his dad he won't be applying to law school on the east coast, but rather will move to the west coast to surf and study oceanography where Macy will be going to college too.

Katja and Macy make up, when Katja finally admits Dylan is good for Macy. Macy agonizes over her broken promise and how to tell Dylan. She takes a job earning enough money to return to the cape in the summer, where at long last she and Dylan finally reunite.

This is a pretty good synopsis. It’s crisp and clean, gives us a sense of the characters.

The problem of course is the book itself. There’s nothing remotely fresh or surprising here. Don’t mistake format (email exchange) for fresh content. The YA crowd is a whole lot more sophisticated and sardonic than this. And does anyone actually stage Our Town anymore? Last time I looked sixth graders were doing Rent.


Anonymous said...

As a regular YA reader, I find this intriguing enough to pick up. I don't see anything unsophisticated about it (frankly looks more sophisticated than many of the adult novel selections on the Crapometer so far). Also, sixth graders in NYC may be doing Rent, but in the heartland, Our Town is still in the regular high school drama rotation. Using lines from a real play might require royalty payments, though.

thatgirlygirl said...

Why THANK YOU Miss Snark! And thanks anon for your generous comments as well.

Anonymous said...

"OT: Our Town - 2002. Dominguez High, in the infamous Compton, CA, has not produced a play in over twenty years. With no money and no stage, two teachers and twenty-four students attempt to produce Thornton Wilder's American Classic OUR TOWN." source: imdb

One does not get what they want nor what they settle for out of life; only the joy after hard work remains... Most are The Stranger to the death of dreams.

YA's know this, but can't express it; this is angst. The book does not accurately portray angst. But perhaps a 13 year old girl reading this book would stay young just a little longer.