Sometimes when you least expected it you come across a book that is just plain fun to read. Four Things My Geeky-Jock-of-a-Best-Friend by Jane Harrington falls into this category. It was unexpected because I picked it up as part of one of the many challenges I signed up for this year, (Jane Harrington has my initials and fulfills my doppelganger challenge for The Take A Chance Challenges hosted by Find Your Next Book Here), and it is definitely an amusing read in a cute and goofy kind of way.
Brady is off on a Mediterranean, “educational coming-of-age” cruise with her mother, who thinks just about everything, from Georgia Nicholoson’s Knocked Out of Nunga Nungas, to bikinis are “INAPPROPRIATE. Before embarking on her adventure, Delia, Brady’s her best friend, writes in permanent marker on Brady’s hand a list of four things she must do while on her trip.
#1 Write real letters to your best friend every day, describing thrilling adventures.
#2 Wear the Bikini
#3 In public
#4 Meet a code-red Euro-Hottie
Brady faithfully follows Delia’s first instruction and voila the reader is becomes part of the trip via Brady’s letters. Through out the book Brady describes the progress she is making on accomplishing the other three.
Reasons I like this book:
#1 I love first person narrative especially if it written in diary (can you say Meg Cabot) or letter form. I always feel more connected to characters when I am reading their diary or letters ... as if they were actually writing them to me. I also find that authors often choose this format because it allows them to be a just a tad more humorous than third person narrative is able to achieve. Harrington also has a firm grasp on how a teenager would write using all caps for shout-outs, parentheses, and exclamation marks to reinforce Brady’s voice, without over doing it so that it becomes distracting.
#2 Brady is a funny girl. In her letters she rant about a variety of subjects. One frequent rant is about the bikini that she bought for her trip. She is uncomfortable about her recent breast develop, which she describes comically to Delia:
“You think this is no big deal. You tell me, “I’ve been wearing bikinis since I was ten!” No offense, Delia, but I don’t think you’re a whole lot bigger now than you were at ten. But me? It’s like I’ve been exposed to radiation. If you had THAT going on, you might be self-conscious about wearing a bikini, too.”
By the time Brady makes it to a beach in Nice (which much to her mother’s surprise turns out to be a topless beach), Brady has almost managed to overcome her fear of wearing the bikini in public. Then aided by an embarrassing malfunctioning clasp, the whole bikini problem becomes mute.
#3 Sometimes I like to just read a book that takes little or no thought, one that flies by page by page, and Four Things My Geeky-Jock-of-a-Best-Friend definitely is one of those books. Brady’s descriptions of the friends she meet on the cruise, her mother’s whirlwind itineraries at every port, and Brady’s inability to find that code-red Euro-Hottie while hysterical at times, doesn’t require reading between the lines.
#4 Despite my #3 reason, I was more than satisfied with the ending, and although some readers might find it was too pat, I felt it was in keeping with the tone of the story. I actually was sorry when the book ended, and for me that is always a sign that I truly did like the book.
So, would I recommend this book to my female students (definitely not a guy book), or anyone looking to be delightfully entertained? MOST DEFINITELY!