Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Life As a Rhombus

Rhonda is a math wiz and knows that in order to get into the college of her dreams and out of her hometown she has to concentrate on her grades.  Rhonda is focused: she's got her eyes on the prize and nothing will derail her...until she's asked to tutor a Sarah Gamble.  Sarah and Rhonda may go to the same school but Rhonda believes their lives are completely different.  Sarah is rich, beautiful, and popular.  Rhonda keeps her head down and away from the popular people.  But at their second tutoring session, Rhonda realizes Sarah is pregnant and confronts her about it.  Afraid to tell anyone she's close to, Sarah swears Rhonda to secrecy.  Rhonda agrees because she's been in the same situation. 

A somewhat unlikely friendship develops between Sarah and Rhonda.  In a way, they both need each other: Sarah needs a real friend who will support her and Rhonda needs someone to show her that she's more than a math tutor.  What Rhonda doesn't count on is being shown by Sarah's brother David just how beautiful and special she is.

As Sarah struggles to decide if she will keep the baby or not, Rhonda must come to terms with her own past and the "A" word: abortion.  While Rhonda feels like she didn't have much of a choice, Sarah must decide what she loves more - her reputation or her baby. 

I applaud Varian Johnson for writing this book.  I felt it tackled a seriously touchy issue without being preachy one way or the other.  The only thing I felt was missing from the options Sarah had to choose from was another "A" word: adoption.  And here I will end any soap box speeches.

That being said, the book seemed to be lacking something that I can't quite put my finger on.  Many writers of realistic fiction seem to write stories based on what they know or their own experiences.  I think this makes it sometimes hard to write a book that has universal appeal.  At times I felt like I was watching a Tyler Perry movie in book form.  (For those of you who don't know who Tyler Perry is, you'll just have to find out for yourself - this is a book blog, not a entertainment magazine.)  So to sum up my rambling review: decent book, but not necessary for all YA collections.

Note: This book was read for possible inclusion on the 2011/2012 YARP list.

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