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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor

Aren't firsts always end up being awkward?

Ask Kate. It was a summer of firsts for her.

Title: Girlfriend Material
Author: Melissa Kantor
Pages: 251


If Kate were Lady Brett Ashley, the devastating heroine of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, she'd spend her summers careering around the Riviera in her coupe, breaking hearts by the dozen--because why not? In reality, Kate's never even had a boyfriend, and she'll be spending the summer abetting her mom's lame ploy to make her dad jealous: running off to Cape Cod and crashing at the seaside home of her wealthy friends, the Cooper-Melnicks. To add to the shame, the Cooper-Melnicks' gorgeous daughter Sarah is a bit like Lady Brett, and she seems less than thrilled to hang out with her new houseguest. Any dreams Kate once had of a perfect summer are ruined.

That is, until Sarah's cute, witty friend Adam starts drawing Kate into the fold--and seems intrigued. With Adam around, Kate feels like she just might have a bit of heartbreaker potential after all. But when a breezy summer romance quickly grows more complicated can Kate keep pretending her relationship with Adam is just a carefree fling? Or will she take the risk and tell him her real feelings? Suddenly Kate is asking herself a question she never thought she'd stoop to: Is she girlfriend material?

I'd like to think that this Lady Brett gave Kate more trouble than she could ever hope to have. In her hopes of living her life like her role model, her summer had unexpected twists and turns because she always thought: WWLBAD? (What Would Lady Brett Ashley Do?).

I was given the impression that this would be a fun summer read, but this had a more serious tone than a fluffy novel should have, you'll notice the depth of the story as you go along.

Like I've said, its a summer of firsts for Kate. A summer with her parents apart, not being able to play tennis with Laura, leaving her writing class, spending it without her best friend, trying to get along with someone she knew from when she was little who turned out to be totally different now that they're grown ups, bonding with her mom three thousand miles away from home, and dealing with the intricacies of first love, things are bound to get awkward for her, one way or another.

I could very much relate to Kate's character. For one, she's a bookworm, who'd gladly spend her days holed up inside her room soaking and immersing herself in the wonderful world woven by the author of the book she was reading. She's also a writer, and I share those qualities with her.

In a sense, I could understand her personality, at times I'd rather stay at home than face the world, but socializing and interacting with people helps, a lot. Especially when things are being difficult at home. The uncertainty and confusion Kate feels what with her parents going through a rough time was very relatable, and her struggle to cope with the changes that might come, the fear that it might come, and that her life, after that certain summer, will never be the same is something teens everywhere go through.

Kate despises her sister because she was so close to her mom, and Kate isn't. It's natural for siblings to get jealous of another at one point in their lives, and Kate just had to learn to open herself up and look beyond it.

What made this book interesting for me, aside from Kate dealing with what was happening to her parents, was her first plunge on love, boys and relationships. You can feel how uncertain she was on a lot of things, how to act, and how to think. And frankly speaking, if she wasn't thinking too much ahead and judging too quickly, things could have turned out easier for her.

Her relationship with Adam plays out nicely in the beginning, struggling to define what they have, or if they really have something, and how will she able to confirm that they do have it, flowed out smoothly. I do think that their relationship progressed quite nicely, with moments of confusion, assumptions and complications just because they weren't honest with each other, though it didn't feel complete for me. It was like building up something that should end up nicely but falling a bit short towards the end. Nevertheless, the ending was very nicely written.

I have to admit that at one point I felt like Adam was a big jerk and Kate was a total idiot, but I guess that's just me feeling prudish. I like to be very clear and definite about things, and going into a relationship where you don't even know what you have, or if you can even call it a relationship, is something I'm not really into, but I guess that's just me.

Every character in the book felt significant, and played a role in Kate's story. I loved how she was able to reconnect with Sarah. I'd always love reading stories about friends and knowing that they'll be there for you if you ever needed them.

I'm giving this four stars because of how much I was able to relate to Kate's character, and Melissa Kantor, I now realized, has a talent of writing from a teen's perspective, in a way which you can easily relate to, with a small dose of angst along the way. :)

I don't have a favorite Kantor book right now, but I'd definitely read her book again if I have the chance!

Rating: ★★★★☆ : FANTASTIC! - This is a really nice book. I love it!


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