Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl

Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1)
Published By: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Netgalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

A lot of contemporaries in the YA world want to sing the praises of the high school experience. It often makes readers forget that high school isn't always the best four years of your life. I often wonder as I read contemporaries that revolve around the high school experience if something was wrong with me. My own experience wasn't always full of fun, large groups of friends, and hot boys just dying to ask me out. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed my time in high school (for the most part) and I enjoy reading those sorts of books occasionally - but I also think its important for books to show the real high school experience complete with gossip, drama, coming of age moments, conflict, and change. Not everything about going to high school and growing up is pleasant. I truly appreciate that Louise Rozett has taken the time to write a compelling, gritty story about the negative side of high school.

Rose Zarelli is truly one angry girl, but I can't blame her, the poor girl has had a rough go of things lately. Her father was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb while doing contract work for the military. Her brother has gone off to college, leaving her to handle her grief and her mother alone. She's starting her freshman year of high school. Her best friend is more concerned with cheer-leading and her boyfriend than Rose. The poor girl just can't seem to shake all the transitions that keep being thrown her way. To make matters worse, she has a crush on an unavailable guy who has a girlfriend spawned from demons who enjoys nothing better than making Rose's life miserable.

In spite of everything, I loved Rose. Her voice comes across loud and clear. She's just trying to figure out how she fits into the high school puzzle. I can relate to that as I felt the same way my freshman year. Thankfully, I didn't have as much to deal with emotionally as Rose. I would not have been as strong - I would have curled up in a ball under my comforter and prayed for graduation. Rose does her fair share of moping and wallowing in self doubt, but I loved seeing her grow a backbone. She stops letting people walk all over her and learns to assert herself. In many ways, she puts me to shame. I don't always say what's on my mind and often let others' opinions of me shape my own thinking. I learned a lot from angry Rose. I couldn't walk away from her story for long before I was clamoring to pick it up again. Rose is just one of those characters that stays on your mind and refuses to be ignored.

Confessions of an Angry Girl also spends a good deal of time looking at bullying. As a middle school educator, this is the one issue that causes the most problems for my students. This is an epidemic that is spreading through many schools - at all age levels. No child should have to experience the constant torment that Rose endures. My heart broke repeatedly as I read of all the tribulations she had to face. It was interesting to me to see Rose try to deal with everything on her own. Not once did she seek help from her mother or an authority figure at school. She does eventually talk to her older brother about things a little bit, but only after constant prodding on his part. I wonder how many other kids are suffering from constant harassment and trying to handle everything on their own. This is an issue that educators, parents, and teens can't just turn their back on.

Confessions of an Angry Girl is a relevant and engrossing novel that shows the ugly side of high school. This isn't a book I would recommend to my middle school students because there is quite a bit of language and sexual content. With that being said though, I do think that the lessons in this novel concerning sex and taking care of one's self are extremely valuable for teens to learn when they are considering entering into intimate relationships. So many teens don't stop to think about the emotional ramifications of their choices. This is one of those books that could create opportunities for conversation between parents and their teens. 

I know I may have made this book sound like a total downer, but its not totally focused on the negative - there are moments of humor that shine through and I have hope that things will improve for Rose. Furthermore, teen readers will appreciate Rose's honest voice. The fact that no character is completely good - they all have some sort of flaw(s) - always makes the story more relevant. Nobody is perfect. It's nice to see that sentiment reflected in fiction. This novel also made me realize how truly sheltered I was in high school. I can't imagine dealing with some of the issues Rose faces at fourteen.

I am anxious to read the next book in the series, Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend, which hits the shelves in 2013.


One Last Gripe: I want to see how the Rose vs. Regina showdown will play out. I'm hoping we find out in the next book.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Its authenticity - the characters, plot, etc. seemed so real

First Sentence: This, Dear Reader, is a tale of the Hell of high school.

Favorite Character: Rose

Least Favorite Character: Tracy



Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some CONFESSIONS to make... #1: I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

#2: I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who "might" be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

#3: High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry-get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.) (Sorry. That was rude.)


15 comments:

  1. So many good YA contemps have come out this year, and I have been eating them up. (Sidenote: I didn't know you were a middle school teacher! I'm starting my second year of my MAT in secondary English ed., hoping to teach middle school language arts.) A more realistic depiction of the high school experience sounds refreshing. Lovely review! :)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to check out my review and comment. This is another really well done, gritty contemp. I loved the main character and the writing.

      Yes, I am a middle school teacher. This coming year I will be teaching 7th Grade Language Arts & World History. It's a very rewarding profession. I wish you the best of luck in your studies. :)

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    2. Really excited to read this. Yours is the first review I've seen!

      I love 7th-graders. I can't wait to have my own classroom! Thank you. I hope I do the job justice! :)

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    3. I'm sure you will do a great job. Enthusiasm is a large part of being successful. :)

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  2. I've been enjoying these types of books lately that look at real life and pain but do it in a great way. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. I found myself being drawn to some of the darker contemporaries this year. Typically I don't enjoy books like this, but for some reason, this year, they really spoke to me.

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  3. I've wanted to read this one too for some time. I just can't seem to get my hands on it. This has to be remedied soon!

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  4. I honestly don't have anything to say other than I want to read this. My life growing up was rough, and my high school experience was pretty rough. I am very curious about the little gal in this novel, and hearing her angry confessions!

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    1. You can't help loving Rose - even when she's angry.

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  5. This was a great read!! I just read it (cover to cover) this afternoon - I loved it!

    Although I will say I was horrified by how awful some of the characters were to Rose. Supposed best friends... in need a slapping!!

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    1. I am right there with you. I was really frustrated by her "friends".

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  6. "A lot of contemporaries in the YA world want to sing the praises of the high school experience. It often makes readers forget that high school isn't always the best four years of your life"
    Ugh, Yes. This is the main reason why I don't read a lot of YA contemporaries. The lack of conflict is boring, and it's hard to relate to the uniformly wealthy/gorgeous/whatever protagonists. Glad to hear that this one avoids this trap.

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    1. This one does not glorify the high school experience. There is also a ton of conflict (mainly of the emotional variety) to keep things interesting. I really loved Rose.

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  7. While my HS experience was a blast, I know its not the same for everyone. I think it will give me some perspective on the "other people" and maybe give me some insights on what it is like out there today.

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