“In The Left Hand of Darkness Genly says, ‘I’ll make my report as if I told a story.’ That’s what I’m going to do. And I’ll explain how the books affected me – because whoever I was at the beginning of the summer, I am not that person anymore.”
Adrienne Haus finds her summer plans destroyed when, in a fit of clumsiness, she falls down some stairs and injures her knee. Now, instead of spending her summer on a canoe trip, she is stuck in her small town, West New Hope (also know as West No Hope), and an unwilling member of a mother-daughter book club. Over the course of the summer, Adrienne tries to figure out who she is, convinced that she wants to be more than just “easygoing” and “impressionable”, both words her mother said she would use to describe Adrienne. Because of the book club, Adrienne gets to know CeeCee, a beautiful and popular girl who is making Adrienne (who she calls A.) a bit of a project, Jill, an overachiever who eyes CeeCee with suspicion, and Wallis, something of a genius but who CeeCee describes as “ominous”.
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher is a well-written and funny novel. The author weaves in details about the book club novels with the characters’ real lives, but she doesn’t really force parallels on the reader and you don’t have to have read the novels to understand what Adrienne is feeling. As a main character, Adrienne is fabulously imperfect; reading about her trying to figure out what kind of person she is and what kind of person she wants to be is fascinating. It was great to read about a fifteen-year-old character who didn’t know exactly where she wanted to end up when she was an adult.
While the novel focuses a lot on Adrienne’s interactions with her fellow Unsinkable Girls, there is also a large portion of the novel devoted to Adrienne’s relationship to her mother. Having never known her dad, Adrienne and her mother are close, but over the course of the summer, there is tension between them. Adrienne is growing more frustrated with her mother’s somewhat secretive attitude about her father, and her mother isn’t particularly happy with some of Adrienne’s summer escapades (which seem shockingly out of character thanks to CeeCee).
This is a fun and funny book, and I enjoyed reading it. It kept a smile on my face, and while there is no hint at a sequel, I would love to read more about Adrienne’s life. After all, how could I not love a girl who tries to figure out how the Library of Congress would catalogue her (“Haus, Adrienne. 1. People with knee ailments – Biography. 2. Bored fifteen-year-old Delawareans – Nonfiction. 3. People without hobbies who have only one friend, and that friend is away for the summer. 4. People who have never met their fathers.”).