Summary (via Goodreads): Everything seems just perfect in Grace’s life. She’s got a great job, a lovely house, a handsome boyfriend – and she’s pretty happy with it all.

Except that Grace has got a secret. She has a family. One she ran away from when life got too tough. Not to mention John, the only man she ever truly loved, who she left behind as well.

So when her sister finally tracks her down – to announce that their estranged father is in hospital – Grace has to make a decision. She can stay in the safe little world she’s carved out for herself, or she can go home. To face the music. But going home really isn’t as easy as it seems. Especially when the music seems to be playing a funeral march, her siblings are beyond furious with her, and their father’s second wife is behaving very strangely indeed….

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is a heartbreakingly funny story about life, loss and what it really means to come home.

Review: I have to get one thing off my chest before I really get into this review.  Something bugged me about this book from one of the first few scenes and has stuck with me every time I think about this book that I just have to address with Liza Palmer.

Liza, love you, but the game Sorry, isn’t played with dice!  It’s played with cards.  Sorry, the long-time-Sorry-playin’-OCD-freak in me just needed to get that off my chest.

Phew.  Now that’s done, I can talk about how much I enjoyed this book.  It starts off a little slow and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love Grace in the beginning, but all my reservations flew out the window as we meet the rest of the Hawkes clan.  I realized as the novel progressed how much the Grace I met in the first scene was a shadow of herself without her family around.  Palmer has a way with characters; each of the siblings felt very real and well-rounded.  Grace’s younger brother Leo is downright adorable.  He’s a giant skinny, lovable, genius puppy that I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book. (In my head, he’s basically Lee Pace)

The sibling relationship are complicated, messy, but full of love.  Palmer weaves flashbacks in with the present seemlessly giving me the feeling that I’ve grown up in this family, too.  Palmer dispenses with Grace’s boyfriend fairly quickly and without much explanation, but it doesn’t matter because the second John and Grace are on the page together they have such chemistry I  kind of forget about the boyfriend altogether.

Palmer creates a good balance between the emotion and the plot, creating one of the more odious step-families since Cinderella.  I was constantly torn between tears and spewing outrage on the Hawkes children’s behalf.

This is a quick, enjoyable read like I’d expect from Palmer, whose first novel Conversations with the Fat Girl is one of my chick lit favorites.  A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is emotional but hopeful tale of family, love, and knowing it’s never too late to go home again.

Lit Snit Verdit: B+

As Comic Con winds down, I’m here to give you my last comic series recommendation/review.  If you’re not that familiar with comics, I hope you’ve seen a series or two that’s caught your eye.  Not all comics are about superheroes and people with powers.  Many of today’s comic series are dramatic, thought-provoking reads that rival (or are many times better than) what’s on the bestseller list.  I hope you’ll give one of these graphic novels a try next time you’re looking for something good to read.

DMZ written by Brian Wood

DMZ is set in New York City, where photography intern Matty Roth, is thrust in the middle of America’s second civil war that has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone.  Matty, now the only reporter in the DMZ, tries to make sense of the war and report the truth, as both sides of the war, the federal government and the “Free State” armies, conspire, lie, and attempt to use Matty as their pawn.

Living in New York, I was a huge fan of the concept of DMZ.  Wood and his co-creator and artist Riccardo Burchielli have imagined a horrific, fascinating vision of NYC.  A friend at work and I often hypothesize apocalypse exit strategies and “what if” catastrophe scenarios (because we’re strange and morbid that way) and DMZ is like seeing one of those conversations come to life.  Wood tackles moral issues, politics, religion, wartime ethics—nothing is clear cut, but every issue makes you think.  Like Scalped, DMZ can get very dark, but that’s what makes it so unique and fascinating.  Wood has created a world that makes you think about things on a global and personal level.  In later volumes Wood seems to get bogged down by political and social commentary at the detriment to characters, making it a slight struggle to get through for me, but I still enjoyed every volume.  Matty’s transformation from the boy who was left in the DMZ to the world-weary report that struggles to find something or someone to believe in is difficult to witness because seeing the chaos in this world gone mad, even I felt helpless and struggled to make sense of it all.  DMZ isn’t a complete downer though.  Matty is a realistic protagonist and the characters that fill the DMZ are intriguing and full of surprises.

I can’t end my Comic Con recs without mentioning two other series that I adore: Buffy the Vampire, Season 8, which is a MUST for any Buffy fan, and Umbrella Academy, a bizarrely brilliant series that the A.V. Club calls “…part X-Men and part The Royal Tenenbaums…”  I wish I could write full reviews on all my favorite series, but I assure you both of these books are well-worth a read.

Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to ask this until this last post, but are there any good comic series you guys would recommend?

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday so I didn’t get around to my comic review post, so today’s Comic Con-inspired post is a twofer.

Runaways created by Brian K. Vaughn

Runaways is another delightful creation from Brian K. Vaughn (Note: if you’re ever unsure where to start when you dive into the comic world, he’s a great writer to start with).  Runaways all started with one simple question: what would you do if you discovered your parents were super villains?  After six teens, Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico, discover their parents are members of a criminal group they take to the streets, wanting nothing to do with their parents’ evil ways. (I know this is a vague summary, but to say anything more would be giving away ever juicy twist that makes Runaways awesome)

To say I adore Runaways might be an understatement.  These are books I re-read again and again, never failing to smile at Molly’s innocent charm or Chase’s silly buffoonery. The series also has what is probably one of my favorite character in book, TV, anything: Gertrude Stein.  Smart and sassy with her psychic dinosaur at her side (I know, I know, just go with it. It’s easier when you don’t struggle.), Gert has carved herself a little place in my heart.  I don’t want to give anything away that’s too spoiler-y because this series is full of surprises, but the first seven volumes, written by Vaughn are pure genius fun.  Joss Whedon picks up the eighth volume, which is decent, but, as much as I adore Whedon, doesn’t have the same flavor that Vaughn brought. Other writers come in after that until the series pitters to a halt.  They say they’re “retooling” the series, but it’s been a while now so I don’t know if it will be picked up again or not.  I’ve heard they’re making a movie, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I urge you, if you’re a fan of the YA genre (or even if you’re not) give Vaughn’s run of this series a try.  It’s full of heart and comedy, while realistically portraying an emotional coming of age story.

Fables created by Bill Willingham
(via Goodreads) When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White’s party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown’s sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose’s ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

I love the entire concept of Fables. Ageless fairy tale characters wandering the streets of NYC?  Yes, please! Whether you’re well-versed in fairy tale lore or not, the characters are entirely engaging and compelling to read.  Fables is funny, compelling, and a little bit grim.  It’s one of those series I want to completely immerse myself in, wishing it were real.  Every volume offers something new and different, whether it be a murder mystery, crime caper, or an epic war, making the series an exciting read.

This series has launched a few different spin offs (including one novel) which I need to pick up.  If you were at all a fan of our book club book, The Book of Lost Things, I would encourage you to try Fables.  It keeps the spirit of dark old world tales and is entirely addictive.

Yay for Friday! What a better way to start off this weekend that a Casting Call Session? 🙂

This week’s choice is Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I love, love, love this book. As a matter of fact, Daniela used to make fun of me for how much I love this book (and rightfully so…my gushing over the swoonworthy leading male was a tad bit ridiculous I’ll admit now).Because of the great love I have for this book, I’ve been struggling with my casting choices but I think I may FINALLY have them right. So here we go!

Jessica Darling: Ellen Page

Jessica is a 16-year-old girl who feels ‘like a fish out of     water’. She’s smart, sassy and awkward. I feel like Ellen Page would totally capture that awkward teenage angst with a dash of snark and is pretty but not TOO pretty.

Bethany Darling: Kate Hudson

Jessica’s older sister and a blonde bridezilla. Based on her previous experience on playing a superficial bridezilla, I’ll go with Kate Hudson. She would irritate the heck out of me if she were my sister.I admit she may be a bit too old, though…

Mrs.Darling: Jean Smart


Jess’s mom is also supposed to be a beautiful blond woman who is super feminine and it appears that Jessica considers her to be the older version of her sister. I’m going with Jean Smart because she’s a fox and I think she’d nail that ultra feminine and motherly character.

Bridget Milhokovich: Leven Rambin

Jessica’s childhood best friend, now a model. She’s described as fair and beautiful but paranoid when it comes to the way she looks. “That’s because born beauties get so much praise that their appearance becomes crucial to their self-worth.” Leven’s character on ABC’s Scoundrels is similar to this so I think she would be perfect.

Paul Parlipiano: Kellan Lutz

OK. She has “hot buttered sex” dreams about Paul Parlipiano. She is “overwhelmed by the urge to lick the sweat off his six-pack. Yum yum.” This guy needs to be HOT. He needs to be athletic as he is on the track team with her. Kellan Lutz is both. I’m sure he could play ‘Columbia University early acceptance smart’ as well.

Scotty Glazer: Corey Monteith

According to Jessica’s mother, Scotty is a catch. He plays baseball, basketball and football. He has a strong jaw and suffers from chronic bed head. He was also Jessica’s first boyfriend. I’m casting Monteith solely because this is the type of character he plays on Glee. He’s not deep. He’s attractive and gets by.

Sara D’Abruzzi: Lacey Chabert

Sara D’Abruzzi is a member of what Jessica and Hope call the “Clueless Crew”. She’s rich and uses “oh my god” and “quote, unquote” a lot. She is upset about looking like a “butchy softball player instead of a ballerina”. Lacey doesn’t fit this last requirement but she could completely capture that spoiled rich girl quality that Sara needs.

Manda Powers: Madeline Zima

Manda “thinks that reading feminist manifestos makes up for her borderline ho-bag behavior”. Another member of the Clueless Crew, she is called the “Kissing Slut” and “Lend-a-Hand-a-Manda” and will only lose her virginity to a hot, six-foot tall blond guy who drives a jeep. Madeline has shown us in her performance as Mia on Californication that she can play a young, smart Lolita in the making .

Hyacinth ‘Hy’ Wallace: Shannon Sossamon

Hy is gorgeous in an edgy way. She comes to Pineville as a supposed transfer but we later learn that she s a socialite who’s only using the group to write a book called Bubblegum Bimbos and Assembly Line Meatballers. Shannon Sossamon is perfect for this. She’s gorgeous, model like and could go from blue jeans to limousines in two minutes flat.

*sigh*

There are a bunch of characters in this book but I just focused on the ones that I thought were important. Which brings me to the most important one to me–

Marcus Flutie: Now, I’m in love with Marcus Flutie. In love. When I first started this series, I decided that any man I was going to get involved with should be just like Marcus Flutie (yes, Daniela…even if he asked to pee in a yogurt container! 🙂 ). My feelings for Flutie are passionate so I’m having a problem finding anyone who can measure up. The person I think comes the closest for me?

Adam Brody.


He’s skinny enough. He’s cute but not hot. I could totally imagine him writing me poetry and being enough of a delinquent that I would have to help him pass a urine test. He can play super smart but has the ability to play somewhat of a bad boy as well. He’s just dreamy enough…

He’s as close as it’s going to get for me and even then, it’s not on the money!

Who would you cast? Did I miss a favorite character? Do you think I should have cast Hope even if she’s not seen? Let me know! (I would especially love to hear who Marcus Flutie would be for YOU!)

In honor of Comic Con this week, I’m sharing some of my favorite comic series for the next five days.  Yesterday I talked about Scalped by Jason Aaron, a dark, gritty tale about life on a Native American reservation, and today I’m going to talk about the first of two series that I’ll share that are created by the brilliant Brian K. Vaughn.

Y: The Last Man written by Brian K. Vaughn

(via Goodreads) In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome–with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This “gendercide” instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he’s the only man to survive.

What could easily be a silly male fantasy realized, Y: The Last Man instead is a funny, grim, thought-provoking, and just a flat-out fascinating tale.  Over ten volumes, and five years (within the story) you see characters grow and change, adjusting to this new world.  Unconventional, but a perfect duo, Yorick (along with his pet monkey Ampersand) and Agent 355 quickly became a delight to read even against this dark backdrop.  They’re a great duo; Yorick’s sly sense of humor is perfect against Agent 355 stoicism.

I was slightly annoyed with the ambiguity as to the cause of the plague that wiped out mankind, but I grew to love the characters so much that I was able to set aside any issues I had with some convoluted plotting (it was also hard reading this with months in between, having to go back and remember what had happened in the previous volume. Lucky for you, all ten volumes are available for purchase and you won’t have to wait for the next installment).  Vaughn created something special with his ability to tackle issues on a global scale with the political and sociological ramifications of losing all the men in the world (save one), while making it very much a story about a boy in love.  Vaughn uses Y to explore issues of morality, humanity, and gender, but is never preachy. Y: The Last Man hits all the right notes of humor, drama, and action, making it a pleasure to read.

Dissatisfied both with writing a “Single Girl on the Edge/ Ledge/Verge” lifestyle column and with her boyfriend (who has a name for his car and compulsively collects plastic bread ties), Ruby Capote sends her best columns and a six-pack of beer to the editor of The New York News and lands herself a new job in a new city.

In New York, Ruby undertakes the venerable tradition of Poker Night—a way (as men have always known) to eat, drink, smoke, analyze, interrupt one another, share stories, and, most of all, raise the stakes. There’s Skorka, model by profession, home wrecker by vocation; Jenn, willing to cross county lines for true love; Danielle, recently divorced, seducer of at least one father/son combo in her quest to make up for perceived “missed opportunities.”

When Ruby falls for her boss, Michael, all bets are off. He’s a challenge. He’s her editor. And he wants her to stop being quippy and clever and become the writer—and the woman—he knows she can be. Adding to Ruby’s uncertainty is his amazing yet ambiguous kiss in the elevator, and the enjoyably torturous impasse of he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not.

What happens when you realize that Mr. Right has his own unresolved past? Where does that leave the future you envisioned? Ruby knows that happy endings aren’t for cowards, and she hasn’t lost hope that there are risks worth taking. As smart as it is laugh-out-loud funny, Girls’ Poker Night is a twenty-first-century His Girl Friday and a refreshingly upbeat look at friendship, work, and love.

Hmmm.

Based on the title and summary, I thought this would be a book about Ruby’s relationships, both romantic and platonic. I expected something along the lines of Sex and the City, where all of Ruby’s wild and wacky antics would be neatly summarized in Ruby’s version of SATC’s Sunday brunch, which in this case would be girls’ poker night.

Not so much.

We learn that Ruby goes through life playing it safe. By playing it safe, she’s found herself unhappy in her 2 year relationship with Doug but she sees no point in ending it as she doesn’t want to deal with the confrontation.  When Ruby gets the perfect out, new employment requiring her to move from Boston to NYC, she still doesn’t end it because she doesn’t want the confrontation. It’s easier to stay.

I get why the author has titled this book Girls’ Poker Night. I get that she uses this night to demonstrate how much Ruby likes to play it safe. Ruby doesn’t take risks in poker because, as in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t like to lose. I get it. Fine.

Apparently the author doesn’t either.

I feel like Davis spent this entire book playing it safe. The friendships, referenced to in the title, aren’t really explored. Hell, the poker night provides realizations for everyone BUT Ruby. The attraction between Ruby and her editor, Michael, is touched upon but not in-depth.  There is no ‘loves-me, loves-me-not’ because from what I can see, the editor clearly wants to be with her. It’s Ruby being insecure, whiny and afraid of becoming emotionally involved.  Even the small twist that takes place towards the end of the novel isn’t really explained either. None of this makes sense to me because the novel definitely has more than its share of necessary dialogue.

With all of that being said, it’s still an interesting and amusing read. Written in short, journal-like entries, this book has a few laugh out loud moments & some great quotes.  At the very least it’s quick and entertaining read. It’s not the best book I’ve read, nor is it the worst.  It’s just, well…blah,.

LitSnit Verdict: C

In honor of San Diego Comic Con this week (which, okay stopped being about comics a few years ago and is more about Hollywood these days, but whatever) I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite comic series (or graphic novels or whatever you want to call them).

I think comics sometimes get a bad wrap as being “kiddish” or only read by middle-aged sci-fi fans that live in their parents’ basement (though this long-held stereotype is definitely changing lately), but I am a huge fan of the medium and have read some stories that rival even the best award-winning “serious” literature so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite series with you these next five days.

There are so many good series that it’s hard to just pick a few to share with you, but I’ve compiled a list that I’ll share over the next five days of what I think are the best series I’ve read in the past few years.  I’m not giving these letter grades because they’re all my favorite series, so it kind of goes without saying that they’d all be A’s in my book.

Scalped written by Jason Aaron

Summary: Scalped is a noir crime story set on a Native American reservation.  Dashiell Bad Horse returns to Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, or “the rez,” after fifteen years away, under suspicious circumstances.  As Bad Horse is coerced into working for the tribal police force, he’s forced to deal with political intrigue, drug dealers, murder, and some emotional entanglements he swore he left behind.

Review: Scalped is an amazing series that constantly pushes the envelope.  Full of intrigue, double-crossing, and scandal, it’s an unflinching look at life on a reservation.  A dark and gritty storyteller, Jason Aaron never ceases to shock and amaze me with surprising twists and moving emotional archs.

This series hinges on it’s twists so I don’t want to give too much away, but Bad Horse is a complex character that I don’t necessarily like, but I just can’t seem to stop from grabbing the next issue to see what will happen next.  I like that this series, while centered around Bad Horse, gives a lot of time to other characters so you understand their motivations both in the present and in the past (Aaron blends the past and present seamlessly within his story.  This series is as much about what happened before Dashiell was even born as it is about the here and now.).  Just when I think I’ve gotten a character or storyline figured out, I’m thrown for another loop and need to re-adjust my entire perception of the series.

I can’t say enough good things about this series.  If you like mysteries, crime stories, or film noir pick up volume one of Scalped as soon as you can.

Matched by Ally Condie
Release date: November 30, 2010

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

There’s been a lot of buzz on different blogs about Matched and I hear it was the “must-get” item at BEA and I can see why.  Dystopian society, forbidden love, free will versus determinism, it all sounds positively delicious.  Plus, the cover is adorable!  I’m a big fan of romance with a sly sci-fi twist and this book seems like it will deliver on every level.  November (almost December!) is way too far away.

*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Summary: (via Goodreads) With a summer job at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, California, teen music junkie Allie is ready for anything. She’s poised to fall in love, catch a thief, and make a mix that’ll break your heart. And when she blogs as The Vinyl Princess, Allie is the sort of mystery girl you can’t resist tuning into. Get ready for the vinyl revolution!

Review: In the novel The Vinyl Princess Yvonne Prinz recreates the life of a 16 year old vinyl record collector, Allie, who spends a lazy summer working in a small California record store (Bob & Bob’s). Allie’s life is consumed by a singular passion: vinyl records. She lives for the crackle produced by the turntable’s needle as it dances its way to the right place, and nothing—not her mother’s miserable online dating fiasco, her best friend’s cheating boyfriend, or the thieving ways of her crush—can distract her from this obsession, which she actively rants about in a blog entitled thevinylprincess.

The unfortunate part of Al’s situation is that she was born about half a century late. Vinyl is almost extinct and the mp3-addicted, iPod listening generation that she belongs to could care less about album track arrangements or cover art. Her outdated music interest relegates her to a small group of oddballs that either work or shop at Bob & Bob’s. As mundane as it sounds working retail in a musty, hole-in-the-wall record store, Allie’s narrative manage to bring out its charms. She an eloquent observer that can give a romantic feel to everything and everyone around her, from the misanthropic co-worker lurking in the store’s stack collection, to the petty and homeless cross-dressers that practically live on the store’s premises, to the mom-and-pop eateries of Telegraph Avenue where she eats lunch.

Even those of us who could never understand the charms of clunky vinyl records can appreciate Allie’s music addiction as she includes all sort of interesting music-related tidbits throughout her narrative. After throwing us a plethora of music information and tracks to listen to, Prinz delivers a music-pinnacle of sorts in the form of a mixtape (ahem, “the mating call of the romantically challenged”) that Allie receives from Zach, a fellow vinyl purist. This is perhaps the most interactive part of the book and should the reader be invested in the story enough—like I was—they’ll assuredly listen to all the tracks listed (in their correct order) to discover Zach’s message.

The story’s actual pinnacle isn’t very dramatic. Allie was never created with some moral, personal or familial issue to resolve but is a rather content character trying to amicably deal with the issues stirred up by those around her. In a rather false-autobiography type of way, Allie was probably conceived to simulate the author, who herself works at a record store and is the active brain behind the thevinylprincess blog (which does exists in real-life and is filled with all kinds of purchasing suggestions for vinyl enthusiasts).

I liked this book; it made me happy to know that passions can bring such contentment to life, even to a teenager’s life.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

PS-Click here to listen to one of the songs Prinz raves about in her book.

Summary (via Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Review (Warning—Light Spoilers): I had to give myself a week and one re-read to write my review so this review didn’t come out full of incoherent fangirl squeeing.  Since reading The Duff I’ve been slightly internet stalking Kody Keplinger as I do most authors I love. (Note to Kody: it’s harmless stalking…I swear.  Just ignore that feeling like you’re being watched all the time.  It will fade once you get used to me.)

Just seventeen when she wrote this, I’m torn between admiration and insane jealousy of Keplinger. Her writing is realistic, but incredibly nuanced. (Note again to Kody: not “insane jealousy” like I’m going to ‘Single White Female’ you.  More like I want to steal your words and make your brain mine…yeah…now that I think about it, that sounds worse, doesn’t it?)

Fast-moving, charming, and honest, The Duff (which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend) hooked me from page one.  Bianca is smart, spunky, and just a little insecure.  Wesley, who could easily be a flat character with his “playboy” ways, is he’s as well-developed as Bianca.  I totally understand how Bianca could fall for this guy she supposedly hated (heck, I kind of fell for him myself).  The way their relationship evolves is completely believable. Their transition from “enemies with benefits” to friends to something even more happens so smoothly you don’t even realize it’s happening, much like the characters themselves.  Their banter is witty and their hookups are, well, pretty hot.  As they get to peel back the layers and emotional barriers you begin to see why these two people are so right for each other.  Without really realizing it, each helps the other deal with larger issues.  Bianca deals with her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism, while Wesley faces absent parents and a grandmother that despises him.

I loved Bianca’s friends, Casey and Jessica.  Both are very different from Bianca but incredibly loyal and clearly the trio cares very deeply for each other.  At one point, Wesley says that he really only has one friend, who is gay, because other boys are jealous of him.  I wish we could have seen a bit more how this affected Wesley.  Girls so often turn against a girl that is seen as more sexually active I thought it was interesting that Wesley’s open attitude regarding sex made him a social outcast among the guys.

My only major gripe is that I think Bianca’s father’s alcoholism perhaps doesn’t get the attention it should.  His outbursts and recovery are waved aside with a heartfelt apology and mention of AA, but I felt like the issue should have been more developed, especially since he gets violent with her.  Also, her absentee mother showing up and expecting things to just work themselves out irked me.

And while I hated how Bianca let Wesley get away with calling her such a horrible name for so long, the scene where she finally admits how much it hurt her is so poignant and emotional you realize that Wesley has no idea how much weight that word carried.  In their relationship, Keplinger elegantly explores issues of self-respect and self-worth that aren’t just regulated to teens.  All women, young or old, feel like “the duff” at one point or another.

By now I’m sure it’s apparent that I loved The Duff.  I think I’d put it up there with Some Girls Are and The Sky is Everywhere as my favorite YA books so far this year (maybe ever).  Unfortunately, The Duff doesn’t come out until September.  I know, I know, I’m sorry for raving about something that isn’t in stores for you right now.  But, I’m counting down the days until you guys can get your hands on this awesome debut novel.  I’m sure once you read it you, like me, will be waiting eagerly to see what else Keplinger has in store for us.

Lit Snit Verdict: A+

*This book was provided by the publisher.

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