Monday, December 3, 2012
My Life Undecided
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
Plot Summary: Fifteen-year-old Brooklyn Pierce can’t get a break. She’s been prone to always make bad decisions. Forever labeled as “Baby Brooklyn” when, at two, she made national headlines when she followed a lizard and ended up falling down an abandoned mine shaft to present day when she lets her best friend Shayne convince her to hold a ragger in her mom’s multi-million dollar model home and a drunken attempt to make fajitas results in the model burning down. Left with all the blame, Brooklyn’s life is now full of no friends (Shayne dropped her like that) and no life as she is forced to do 200 hours of community service at a nursing home and also help reconstruct the new model home on her weekends. Feeling like she can’t be trusted with her own decisions anymore she decides (this being the last one) to have other people make them for her and begins an anonymous blog called “My Life Undecided” in which her readers will vote on decisions and she will follow them as determined. At first, her few loyal readers help her try new things—going out for the rugby team (which she finds she’s bad at), the debate team (which she finds she’s good at), and more. However, she’s torn when the new hot boy in school, Hunter, shows interest in her while Brian, her debate partner, also seems smitten. When she succumbs and makes her own decision (deciding to go out with Hunter instead of Brian) the consequences end up with her in a gas station that is being robbed and she makes it on the news as a hero—Baby Brooklyn all grown up. The media attention draws Shayne back and Brooklyn begins to fall back into her old ways. When her over perfect sister comes to visit and has a near heart attack because of the pills she’s taking to help her keep up with her intense studies at Harvard, Brooklyn begins to reevaluate her life. Should she go to the dance with Hunter or Brian? Will she be able to make the right choice on her own?
Critical Evaluation: Brody is a fun author despite some similarities between books (for example, her overuse of the word “diatribe” and the fact that all her characters in all her books read the same Cosmo-like rip off magazine and two characters each get involved in a robbery holdup). Some of the plot seems a little unbelievable and, at times, Brooklyn seems older than 15. Overall, it has a positive message delivered in a humorous manner—to be independent and to be brave enough to make your own decisions because it is your own life being affected.
Reader's Annotation: “Baby” Brooklyn has always made bad decisions ever since she made national news at the age of two when she fell down an abandoned mine. Ever since, she’s made bad choice after bad choice. She’s now tired of it. She decides on one more decision—to start an anonymous blog in which she will poll her readers on various decisions and do what they vote she do.
Author Information: Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape. After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author. In four short years, Jessica has sold nine novels (two adult novels to St. Martin’s Press and seven young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux). Jessica’s books are published and translated in over fifteen foreign countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Israel, and Taiwan. Jessica now works full time as a writer and producer. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado (Brody, n.d.).
Genre: Realistic, Humor
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Read the funny rugby audition
Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+
Challenge Issues: Sex, drugs, drinking, language
Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill)
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement)
· A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
· A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
· Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
· Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
· Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips)
Reason for Inclusion: Well-written and humorous realistic fiction YA author.