Published by Harper Teen on 6/7/2011
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) is a sweet novel, sometimes tawdry and occasionally even funny. April is on the cusp of adult-hood and, like any other typical teen, yo-yo’s between wanting to be a child and an adult. She obviously wants good things for herself in life, but doesn’t want to give up the good things she has to get them (and hey, I don’t blame her, that kinda sucks). She has a “great” boyfriend, Noah, who is just super-dreamy and is BFFs with Marissa and Vi, two very different girls from very different walks of life, each who offer her a different perspective on hers. April’s parents are divorced, and after her mother cheated on her father, she packs up her brother and moves to Paris to live with her new husband. But April deals with all that, because she has Noah, Marissa and Vi. And her father (oh yeah, and Penny, Dad’s new wife). Until the day her dad tells her they’re moving to Cleveland. Let the shenanigans begin. April manages to convince her father and Penny to let her stay with her friend Vi, and Vi’s mother, Suzanne, who is a stage actress and never around. April’s father doesn’t know this, however, because he never meets with Suzanne face-to-face; the girls conspire to fool him and he acquiesces to April’s wishes. Let’s stop here for a second: what parent let’s their child stay with a friend at 16 without ever meeting the other parent? I can’t think of one! That’s pretty unbelievable no matter how slick kids try to be. That part of the story just didn’t jive with me since I don’t see it happening. I felt like the parents in this story were just cardboard cutout props, conveniently placed at appropriate times, but neither necessary to the plot nor very interesting. And like I said, I found many of their circumstances very unrealistic, like the hot tub, or her father offering to get her an apartment (don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled anything for you). But I still liked the story, because it was very sweet and the author did a good job growing her characters and delivering messages throughout the book. April is an inherently good girl who does want to please everyone around her, gets good grades and in general, makes good decisions (well, until now LOL). The author does little flashback episodes so the reader is offered brief glimpses into her history as well, so we get to know her better. I found myself liking her a lot. She is someone I would have wanted to be friends with. Although throughout the story, I smacked my forehead a lot, muttering “why are you doing THAT?!” Vi is the bad good girl. The what? The “bad” good girl. She’s bad and she’s good. She’s bad because she’s bad. She’s the kind of bad that you want to be around because you know you’ll have fun, but she’s good because, dammit, she’s freaking honest, and you can’t ask for much more than that. Marissa is also a good character and an excellent counter-balance to Vi; she’s kind, friendly and dependable (also boring; sorry, the baddies are just way more fun). There are other characters I liked and disliked from the beginning, but I won’t go into those, because those details are spoilers, however, I think you’ll find them easy to spot. I think the take-away from this book is pretty great. April learns a lot over the course of her stay with Vi. She goes from a girl who didn’t even know how to do the dishes (really??? I was doing them at 10!) to a girl who scheduled her own doctor’s appointments, took her cat to the vet and simply became a woman. I don’t think I’ve seen a character grow from inside this way since the Fever Series by Karen Moning, even though they aren’t even the same genre. So in short, I recommend reading 10 Things We Did (but probably shouldn’t have) simply for that reason alone. It’s heart-warming. And in the end, her decisions were ones I agreed with. I like when I can agree with a book, it makes me feel squishy inside.
Yeah, why would I want some time to get used to the idea? Much better to spring it on me like a knife-wielding jack-in-the-box.
This book was purchased for the Nook app at Barnes & Noble’s website. Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.
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