by Emily Gale
Chicken House, June 1 2012
contemporary young adult
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)
Kassidy Kennedy is used to her father's crazy schemes -- it's better than his downswings, which are just plain scary -- but her + The X Factor is a disaster made in hell. Plus, her mom's suspiciously MIA, her brother Raff's criminal antics have gotten him in deep, and how was she supposed to know that the Other Cass, a.k.a. cute boy in boots, was (former) BFF Char's Dream Boy? Kass's life is going off the rails, and it doesn't seem anywhere close to getting back on track.The cover:
Linna said it -- why on Earth is this cover so fluffy? So pink? Do they want readers to be sidelined by this novel's heavy topics like I was? Especially with the blonde. (Not to stereotype hair colour... although you can see her brunette roots showing. I can't decide if I want to point and laugh or facepalm.)
At first, Kass's voice seemed forced to me. There is immense pressure on authors to have an idiosyncratic protagonist, and I was sure this was the product. But gradually Kass's voice slows down in the wacky metaphor department, a few of the more consistent stylistic features smooth out and some truly funny observations pop up.
The development of Kass's relationships with the secondary characters is really what drives Girl Out Loud: her and Raff's relationship progress can be predicted before the book even starts (and is strikingly similar to Antony John's Five Flavors of Dumb -- but obvs FFoD did it better), but the twist with the love interest is unprecedented and refreshing. (Well, calling it "refreshing" is probably the wrong word, especially since I don't feel Kass handled the problem well... but it's definitely not common.)
This novel's major fault lies in the combination of its brevity and its subject matter. The story plunges deep into the crevices of adultery and personality diseases, adding to the relationship stresses with friends & boy. This load of Serious Issues makes the book, in my head, into the shape of a sharp, steep V; the book's shortness compresses all these Issues and either makes them too inconsequential or too quickly resolved. Plus, there's a dose of Kass going "I have no friends to turn to, woe is me" through the middle.
But what can I say? I'm a sucker for a good ending that leaves me tingly with warmth, and the repetition with Simon Cowell worked out extremely nicely in my mind. (You'll have to read the book to understand.) So Girl Out Loud gets a better-than-average rating.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5