Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Read My Lips

Title Read My Lips
Author Teri Brown
Genre YA Commercial Fiction
Rating C+

Summary Serena is deaf--she doesn't use American Sign Language because she's really adept at reading lips--and her family just moved to a small town in Oregon so she can have a better chance of making friends now that she's main-streamed. Skateboard-loving Serena doesn't think she'll fit into the cookie-cutter Stepford community, but when the popular girls realize that Serena's lip reading can help them get the dish on all the gossip, she's totally in. But will that mess up her one chance with school "bad boy" Miller, who she likes?

First Line "What the heck?"

Review There were a few things that I liked about this book: I like stories that involve social climbing-cum-morality tales as a story line; I like YA books that use social classes/school politics as a theme; I like some PG-13 romance; and the idea of having Serena be deaf was a new twist on all of this. Also, both Serena and Miller had some heavy history (her's about being deaf, his about being orphaned) that played in nicely with how they interacted and got to know each other.

But there were quite a few things I didn't like about this book. First off, I think the writer depended on us believing that Serena was a skateboarder/punk without doing the work to prove it. Serena goes out skateboarding only once in the entire story. I think if that's one of your primary character traits (and what sets her apart from the "It girls" at school), you should have proven this to us beyond just saying she wears hoodies everywhere.

Related to this, one of the up-and-coming cool girls of the sophomore class (with a nice streak) invites Serena to sit with them on the first day of school, and I just thought this was a little too unbelievable. I thought to make it more angsty, she should have started to develop her friendship/relationship with Miller a little more and then get the invite to go over to the dark side, or at least had a couple of days where she had to sit by herself in the cafeteria so we really sense that she's an outcast, so we fully get it that she's desperate to be accepted. Otherwise, it just looks like she's making friends really easily, and doesn't play up all that well.

All in all, this book was just okay for me, slightly better than average, a quick read, but I'll be putting it in my 1/2-Price Book Store sell basket.

Recommendation People who've enjoyed other stories that involve social climbing (How to be Popular by Meg Cabot or The Market by J.M. Steele) will probably like this one, especially since it has the fresh twist with Serena's deafness.

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