Saturday, February 18, 2012
Just Finished Reading .... The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
This Saturday is my last Valentine's Day-themed review. Next week, I'm going paranormal!
Today's feature is:
by Melissa Jensen
February 16, 2012
Source: bought at Barnes and Noble
Mature Content: none
If you enjoyed Melissa Jensen's Falling in Love With English Boys, her second book has many of the same components: a plucky, sympathetic heroine, the boy she admires from afar, and a historical figure whose story gets woven into the plot.
In this book, the sympathetic heroine is Fiorella "Ella" Marino, a scholarship student at the Willing School in Philadelphia. The dreamy boy is Alex Bainbridge, a classmate of Ella's. And the historical figure is Edward Willing, an obscure painter and nephew of the school's founder.
Ella's a social zero at school. Unlike the "Phillites," her school's in-crowd, Ella has an unsightly scar and a loud, boisterous Italian family who run a restaurant in South Philly. Ella loves to draw and she's intrigued by the artistic talents of real-life Alex and long-dead Edward. She gets to know the former when he tutors her in French and the latter when she spends some time poking around the school archives. In fact, she has long conversations with Edward about her life. Just as she and Alex seem to connect, she learns something about Edward that reinforces all her insecurities about being with Alex.
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare was a fun and entertaining read. Ella was a winning protagonist. The book had great secondary characters and the historical subplot added an original touch.
However, in the words of Tim Gunn, there's a Whole Lot Going On Here.** Ella has an imaginary relationship with Edward and a real one with Alex. The dialogue zigs and zags between pop culture, psychology, and art. Some great subplots stay frustratingly unresolved. At times, reading this book felt like standing in the middle of the kitchen at Marino's restaurant during the dinner rush -- a little chaotic.
But all in all, I enjoyed being in the center of all the fun. If you're a fan of YA contemporary fiction and looking for a lively, keep-you-on-your-toes kind of read, I'd recommend The Fine Art of Truth or Dare -- and Falling in Love With English Boys.
**In case you're curious, here's some of the things that come up in the course of the book: Man Ray, Genghis Khan, Red Bull, Cinnabon, Gene Kelly, Pat Benatar, Freddy Krueger, Shakespeare, Top Chef, Keats, Jessica Simpson, Japanese woodblocks, Dancing With The Stars, Johnny Depp, Styx, Steven Tyler, Italian folk tales, Celine Dion, Kung Fu, karaoke, Poland Springs, Saturday Night Live, Robert DeNiro, American Idol, Ozzie Osborne, David Beckham, Christina Aguilera, Jackson Pollack, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Joan Crawford. Whew.