Monday, July 19, 2010

How Not to Face High School

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Perfectly Dateless
by Kristin Billerbeck

Perfectly Dateless is a 21st century print version of an ‘80s teen movie. It has all the insecurities, self loathing, and cliques located firmly within the horrors of high school. I suppose it might be an entertaining book for a teenage girl who is experiencing it all, but it was a little too extreme for me. I hated high school, but I don’t remember it being that bad.

Daisy Crispin, entering her senior year after being nobody for the past three, is determined to attend her prom. Being a perfectionist, she starts a journal to keep track of her progress. On top being way outside the popular crowd, she has strict parents who won’t let her date and insist she wear homemade clothes. Things do not look promising.

The book is full of long entries in her prom journal, which I found unnecessary for the story. Daisy narrates her life in first person, present tense, so we get a ringside seat to her emotions and thoughts. She is a typical, self-absorbed teen, and Billerbeck did a great job of presenting the world through her eyes. I tried to see the adult reasoning behind Daisy’s parents, but all I saw was their weird and strict decisions. I agreed with Daisy that they totally didn’t get her. But I did see her rebellious attitude, and didn’t like it. That made it hard to empathize with her problems.

But there are some interesting plot twists to the story and the journal turns out to be a symbol of Daisy’s declaration of independence. It doesn’t work out the way she planned and even her parents turn out to be much more understanding than she expected. But she manages to grow up without too much damage. There is a lesson in the book about trust and obedience, so I wouldn’t mind my teenager reading it.

Pros: It captures the current world of teens from a – slightly – Christian perspective and offers some insight into how not to be a teen.

Cons: It’s definitely targeted to teenage girls and doesn’t have much to offer any other readers.

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