Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting the Juby

I'll confess. I haven't read any of Susan Juby's other books. I started Another Kind of Cowboy, but after a few pages I realized I was still scarred from Freak Show and couldn't go on. I avoided her Alice series (Alice, I Think, Miss Smithers, Alice MacLeod: Realist at Last) despite good reviews, because I was having a difficult time separating it from the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor books; a syndrome I have about similarly names books; see Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Headley and the book by Avi I read in junior high that shares the first half of that title. I don't like to read two same-ish titled books out of an, I don't know, twisted loyalty to the first book, or more likely, the idea that there would be some Back to the Future-like conundrum where the world would cease if I held both plots of same-titled books in my head at once.


I was wrong then and now; not reading Juby's other books?* "Big mistake. Big. HUGE." Getting the Girl is a laugh-out-loud mystery. A funny book? A mystery? Aimed at teens? Omg. I'm happy to encounter ONE of those qualities in YA books. Add in a side detail of food and cooking? I think Juby wrote this book just for me. And all the teens I'm going to make read it. Will this make it into my summer booktalks? Yep. And to make it even more awesome, I can talk this one up in both the middle schools and the high schools. Making MY life just a little bit more easy.

Shall I stop gushing and tell you why I like it? Hell, why not.

Sherman Mack is really into Dini Trioli. She's the perfect girl - cool, aloof, older. Sherm is sure an older girl will appreciate his sensitive ways, despite her dating the popular jock. But when he figures out that Dini is in serious danger of getting D-listed and ostracized by a cruel school ritual, he decides that if he can uncover the D-listers and make the school safe for all girls, Dini will have to fall in love with him. What he doesn't know is that there's physical danger, a pink bike, some crossdressing, and a burnt omelet in his future.

Short chapters help with a snappy pacing that's in tune with the book's sharp and witty dialogue. There's certainly a level of predictability with the plot and romance, but it's with the B-level lines, so it provides more a level of comfort than an annoyance; Juby maintains a balance between predictability and surprise (humor helps a ton with this) that will please readers coming from different interest points (mystery, romance, humor, etc).

It's been so long since I've read something I've truly fell in love with. Not since Ellen Emerson White, and I've been making the EEW love last a long time by reading the out of print stuff at the rate of about one a month. The added bonus with Juby is that it's going to be so much easier to sell than EEW due to the better covers and the more plot-driven story (rather than EEW's entirely character-driven ones - although I was able to sell THE ENTIRE President's Daughter series to an aspiring writer-teen last week. Which made my day.).

Anyway, Getting the Girl should be a sure bet across the board. Well, maybe not for the emo kids. It would cheer them up and ruin their demeanor. We wouldn't want that.

*And let us not forget that there is another teen book called Getting the Girl. One by Marcus Zusak. But as I'm not convinced by Zusak; i.e. yes I, too, believe Book Thief is brilliant, but as I Am the Messenger made me want to die slowly, I don't care a whit. Therefore, my opinion is still out on the man. Also, I haven't read Zusak's version and have little to no intention to do so. Especially not with a subject heading of "self-actualization (psychology). Fiction." ugh.


tanita✿davis said...

"...the idea that there would be some Back to the Future-like conundrum where the world would cease if I held both plots of same-titled books in my head at once."*snickers*

Admittedly, Susan Juby was harder for me to get into; not sure why, but the first Alice book didn't do it for me entirely, and I never picked up another one. I read a non-Alice book and liked it pretty much. THIS sounds like it would be something I might have to steal from a library. FOOD and mystery and Luuuurve? Oh, yeah. Mine.

Beth Kephart said...

What a tremendously fun review to read. So full of verve. I so loved Zusak's Book Thief, but oddly have not read beyond that, so that this review was instructive on multiple counts.

Jackie said...

Well, Beth Kephart, author of the wonderful HOUSE OF DANCE and UNDERCOVER, I am honored that you think so!

Also, I think NOTHING BUT GHOSTS looks fab! I hope it does well when it comes out!

Thank you for not holding my run-ons and semicolon over-use against me.

Colleen said...

This does sound really good - you know I'm all about the YA mysteries. I've got to get my hands on this one.

EEW is my hero. Period.

You will like "Nothing But Ghosts" - it's a nice little historical mystery, family drama, coming-of-age and smidge of romance. Plus a whole lot of being bummed that your mom died. But it's not a downer book; I honestly don't know how Beth pulled it off.

Belle said...

You got me with a funny mystery aimed at teens. I haven't read any Susan Juby. Getting the Girl sounds like a good place to start.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I shall read Zusak's and let you know. Yay for Susan Juby!

Tarie Sabido said...

I've actually never heard of a funny YA mystery. Sounds good! But truly you had me at "a side detail of food and cooking."

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVED this book! I've read some of her other work (I must admit that I adored Miss Smithers as well) but this book brings her writing to another level. I think it is book that will appeal to both boys and girls!