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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Sister Mischief

Sister Mischief - Laura Goode After reading several very positive early reviews, I’ve been waiting to get my grubby little paws of this book. Well worth it!This is very much a character-driven book, and as a result, I loved Esme. She feels like a natural narrator, and I really felt her anger and frustration about her life through her words. Esme doesn’t have the right answers, she screws up with her friends, and at the end, she still feels like someone trying to find her way. I could really tell how much hip-hop spoke to Esme, and how she uses the style to express herself, not just in the various songs she and Sister Mischief perform, but even in her private notebook and scribblings. I also really liked that she had a bunch of different influences going into her writing, and not just name-dropping a few big names and leaving it at that. I’d also like to comment on how much Esme spends the book scribbling in her notebook and using her lyrics to vent, even about minor things that happen at school—if there’s anything in this book I could relate to, it was this. My early high school years weren’t pleasant, so I’d always turn to my notebook and vent out my frustrations (something that I still do to this day). I loved seeing someone else churn out creative juices, and reading over Esme’s lyrics gave me a big smile.Concerning the rest of Sister Mischief’s MC’s, I loved them all. I just wanted to give Rowie a big hug and tell her to be true to herself, even if she wasn’t sure about her sexual orientation. Her frustration and conflict between having Esme all to herself and the response from her family was really natural, and I could understand why she and Esme both decided to mentally blue-screen following their break-up. I do wish she would have given coming out publicly a little more thought, but given her background, I can understand her hesitation. Tess was probably my second-favorite character of the bunch, if only because she doesn’t compromise being Christian with insulting her friends for being gay or into hip-hop or different from the rest of white suburban Minnesota. However, while I liked Marcy, I did think she got the least characterization out of the group, if only for being a supportive friend whenever Esme needs her the most. I felt like she needed a deeper exploration to her, as Esme, Rowie and Tess had their characters develop over the course of the book in reaction to the events.I want to make a comment about religion in the book—Esme identifies as Jewish in a SWASP community, we’ve got Tess the Lutheran, and Marcy’s described as being Catholic. I find the Catholicism mention interesting, as some of Esme’s flashbacks to her childhood with Marcy does bring up the religion, and makes even Marcy feel more like an outsider. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal in context, but I liked how Goode used something that is definitive of Christian religion to illustrate outsider-status in Midwestern America. Also, whenever the girls leave Holyhill, there’s a real strong sense of how diverse Minnesota really is. Esme makes a comment early on about how most of her town fits the “blond, blue-eyed” archetype, but the club and subway scenes lent a more diverse culture that Sister Mischief deals with, if only on a limited basis. It would have been nicer to get more of the diversity during the school scenes, but I liked how it was handled. Also, I liked the extended discussions on racial identity, and if it was all right for the four to use music that’s so racially ingrained (also, going back to their musical influences, as well—each girl has her own taste for certain hip-hop artists and other musical genres that they manage to blend in together); also, extended discussion on if using degrading terms like “bitches and hos” was all right as well.And I have to give Goode massive kudos for her writing style. There’s a real rhythm in the writing whenever Esme falls into her stream-of-consciousness, almost like an invisible beat to the prose. It felt like Esme was telling you her story and it made the prose feel nature. Also, I loved the use of footnotes throughout the book. A lot of YA books tend to shove texts and IMs and other forms of electronic communication, so not having everything single text and tweet shoved in my face was really refreshing. It also worked for Esme’s notebook scribbling; I liked seeing her thoughts as asides, not italicized or bolded to catch the reader’s eye. My only real complaint about the book as a whole is that most of the side characters, aside from some other kids from the school and the girls’ parents, don’t really get that much characterization. The most egregious example would be Mary Ashley, for fulfilling the hypocritical Christian white girl role. We don’t really see much of her, outside of a few school settings. I really wanted to see more of her confrontations with Tess, to give her a little more depth than giving the girls a few catty remarks. I was kind of disappointed that the teacher didn’t really do much aside from giving the girls a voice and being the ‘cool’ teacher who disagrees with the administration’s policy; she could have played a more active role in the plot, aside from talking the other staff members into disbanding the anti-hip-hop policy. I would have really liked to have seen more done with them in general, but they’re the only weak point in the story.Overall, FANTASTIC read. I look forward to pushing this book on to many people as I possibly can. *temples fingers*