Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child - Maria T. Lennon

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child
Maria T. Lennon
Series: N/A
Genre: Children's Fiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Sobbing
On Goodreads

When Kiersten gave this to me, she quoted the woman who gave it to her. “In my opinion, [Maria T. Lennon] is the next Judy Blume.” NO. WRONG. As a faithful Judy Blume fan from now until the end of time, I am so upset that anyone would have the audacity to compare Lennon to Blume. This was endlessly boring, formulaic, and cringe worthy. (As a note, I know that as a teenager it might seem that I’ve just grown out of the children’s genre, but I still wholeheartedly enjoy a good kids book).

The plot of the story is dried out and over told – there’s a girl who makes a mistake. To pay for the mistake, she has to start over in a new place. With some pitiful effort, she transforms miraculously. Woo. The dry nature of the book is killing me. The main character, Charlie, is annoying, and quite frankly, I hated her. As someone who is really obnoxious herself, I can tell you for a fact that Charlie is so terrible that not even I can stand her. She is a bully who needs to see the wrongs in her ways, and honestly, it has nothing to do with being a “middle child.” While Lennon tried to use her middle-child-ness as an excuse for her bad attitude, nothing allowed for the way Charlie behaved. Plus the pranks that she pulled were crazy even for college kids – no one in middle school could pull off something like that.

Crazy plot holes, huh? I’d let you know more of the plot holes, but I’d be giving away the only semi-interesting part of a terrible book. But be forewarned, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t quite add up. Let’s go back to the characters though. Lennon tries to portray Charlie as a misunderstood fashionista who can work miracles with computers and is at a bad place in her life. As we all know too well, middle school is often worse than it seems, and the kids that are like Charlie never end up reforming. Honestly, for this kind of character to work in a story, she has to appeal to the audience, and she didn’t appeal to me.

Don’t forget about Charlie’s family. Her family is apparently perfect, and none of them change at all: totally static. Her mom forces her to be a good person and read while also supporting her, and her Dad is an architect who is working on Harry Houdini’s mansion (which is both relevant and irrelevant information in the book because Lennon cannot form a cohesive plot as it seems). Her little brother is adorable and her elder sister is kind and charitable, but also popular despite her lack of fashion sense which is so important to Charlie. (Her family seems too good to be true, even for a story about a middle child).

And what about the other characters? Also completely static. There’s Trixie, your typical mean girl, and Babs, her follower. And then there’s Marta, who is the wounded bird in this story. Honestly, she’s a huge plot hole for me – with her knowledge of ehm –certain things- ehm (because of her mother). Like, if you see your mom attain something you want, would you or would you not be careful to do things similarly to her? Yes right? UGH. Don’t understand you Marta, although your home situation helps (but not enough to clarify the plot hole).

I’ll tell you about one more gap in the plot before stopping, because then we will get into spoilers (if we can even say that, this is a super routine book with maybe two plot twists in it the whole way and it’s honestly not anything special). Okay, so I told you that Charlie loves computers. Did I also tell you her parents allow her to webcam with some random Indian guy named Jai who lives in Mumbai? Well. She does. And on top of that, every time there’s something questionable happening in the story, Charlie (with the help of Jai) hacks into a secure database, and forges a document of some sort. Like she’s 12. That is not possible. I know 12 year olds in real life, and having been 12 at some recent point in time, I can personally tell you that any 12 year old that can create a fake H1 Visa is so gifted with computers that they need to graduate high school early and just move to college. Charlie, is not this 12 year old.

I don’t want to complain about her any longer but I’ll end it with this. Charlie is vapid, and shallow, and frankly, too obnoxious for her own good. At least she wasn’t TOTALLY static throughout the book, albeit, she only changes begrudgingly.

All in all, this was not a good book. Sorry Maria Lennon, but you struck out with me. This copy of my book was an ARC provided by BEA 2013, and honestly, they can have it back if they wanted. Unfortunately, I will not be recommending this to anyone.

- Amrutha

Do you believe in middle-child syndrome?
Let us know in the comments!

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