Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going VintageBook: Going Vintage
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publication Date: March 26th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 4 Stars

When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn't cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma's list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy's cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she'll get it done. Somehow. 
This book caught my interest the moment I learned that the main character had a certain violent streak and a love for chips with salsa and cream cheese. Also, there's apparently this thing called milk toast, and it sounds so disgustingly DELICIOUS.

Anyway, back to the book. It's exactly like the summary says. A girl finds out that her boyfriend's been cheating on her with an internet chick named, of all things, BubbleYum. How do you take someone with a name like that seriously? Mallory finds out about BubbleYum, she gets mad while her boyfriend is in the kitchen (where he belongs, sexists), and she throws a virtual book at his virtual icon and makes him bleed. Then she posts on his Friendspace that he's a massive tool and runs out of the house.

Of all the dramatic exits in the world, that is probably one of the best. Just leaving your boyfriend to see that you've told all his friends he's a massive tool on a social network. Imagine the look on that guy's face! It probably looked something like this:

I have to say, I admire Mallory for her courage. There were a lot of times that I thought she'd crack and go back to Jeremy, but she never did. And nothing about her experience is contrived. It does take her a while to get over him and move on, but it feels natural when it happens. 

Example: He looks marginally tortured. Before I can let pity creep in, I have to remind myself that his torture is self-inflicted and only .083 percent of what I feel. 

Yeah, Jeremy's kind of a douche. I don't know what else I learned from this book about him except that he's half Asian and a douche. I hope those two aren't related. Speaking of relations, let's talk about his cousin, Oliver. Actually, I'll just show you guys some quotes spoken by him or about him.

"Five minutes of talking to you is more entertaining than a lifetime knowing Jeremy. So either you came to your senses, or he did something stupid." 

 He's written an extensive list in tiny, slanted caps. No writing tablet or smartphone. He's a pen-and-paper lister, a beautiful and dying breed. 

I've seen people laugh at funerals, so why not be giddy post-breakup? Especially around a guy who makes life feel so effortless, like a meteor could crash into his car and we would just shrug and take the bus.

What really stands out about Oliver is his sincerity. A lot of the guys from YA novels are now too cool and too disdainful, relying on their looks to get all the girls drooling after them, so I liked that Oliver was so effortlessly hip. In the beginning, he seemed like another stereotype, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of dedication he put into the pep club and the way he goes about pursuing Mallory. The moment she observes that he's only perceived as a hipster because he doesn't hold back with his thoughts was the moment I loved him. With Oliver, I totally wouldn't have minded if he wasn't as hot as Mallory said he was. His personality more than makes up for any appearance defects.

The plot itself is interesting, and it hops along pretty quickly. I loved Mallory's sister, Ginny, and how easily she jumps into the List. Lots of sisterly love in this book. Her character isn't explored too deeply, but I wasn't expecting much from that aspect of the relationship. The List itself poses an interesting challenge, and it reminded me a lot of how technology is making us dumber. I mean, when's the last time one of us went to the library to research? And did MLA citations the right way? I've been inputting those suckers into the laptop ever since I discovered and copy-paste. It was fun to watch Mallory dodge the hurdles of technology while avoiding her ex and any possible feelings for adorable Oliver at the same time. Quite a task. 

I've mentioned before that Mallory is a pretty strong girl, especially when it comes to staving off Jeremy and his desperation to have a homecoming date (ugh). But I don't really appreciate her flakiness, especially when she just decided to blow off Oliver. She says she's a flaky person, but there was no need to add an irrelevant character flaw where it wasn't needed. I do like that for a long time, she made her life revolve around Jeremy and ignored extracurriculars and everything else. It's a good lesson, especially since many girls (probably boys, too) try to find an identity through having a significant other.

There were a lot of issues in this book that I didn't anticipate, like the conflict between past and present, the way we like to romanticize the past and say the present is never as great as what happened before (Midnight in Paris, anyone?), and the mistakes we've all made and how we try to go about solving them. There were multiple storylines with Mallory's mother, father, grandmother, and sister. As a result, each problem is solved quickly with a messy resolution. However, this could also be because the problems were too deep to be solved with a simple hug or a family sit-down.

All in all, I loved the concept behind the book and reliving the vintage era. So much fun. While the whole thing about technology warping our lives and making us forget ourselves tends towards overexaggerated sometimes, it's to be expected when you're reading from the eyes of a teenage girl. Very adorable book if you feel like feeling happy.

Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving me the chance to read and review this book!
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