Book Review: Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

Title/Author:  The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary,

Published:  May 8th, 2012 by Random House Children’s Books
(That’s today!!!)

E-Book ARC, 232 pages.

How I Got This Book:  Received this ARC galley from Netgalley

Why I Picked It Up?:  This book sounded really cute, and I was in the mood for something cute and girly and bookish.

Book Jacket Blurb:  “I’m Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn’t want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee’s parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of “The Unbearable Book Club,” CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren’t friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I’ll turn in when I go back to school.”

My Review of this Work:

Dear Ms. Schumacher, Please tell me that you stumbled upon the name Adrienne Haus because you just wanted to include the anagrams sentence in your book. Because that is pure genius. =)
Sincerely, Jennifer @ A Librarian’s Library

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls is a book that is really unexpected.  What starts out as a cute story about four girls from completely different worlds being forced together through summer reading turns into something so much more.
This book is really more of a coming of age story focused on our narrator, Adrienne Haus.  “A” is a girl who finds herself without her best (and only) friend for an entire summer because of a knee injury that prevents her from going on an outdoor excursion.  As she mopes around the house and dreads this stupid book club her mother started, she finds herself identifying with the characters in her summer reading books, and these characters begin teaching her more and more about herself.

The other girls in this book club are very distinct (and somewhat cliche).  CeeCee is your typical “A-List” girl who hides her problems behind her pretty face and outgoing personality.  Jill is adopted from China and already has her life for the next 10 years planned out to the day.  And Wallis is a mysterious new girl who skipped two grades.  The four of them, who would not have interacted otherwise, find themselves thrown together for an interesting summer.

I am a firm believer in writers being intentional with every detail in their story. And somewhere I feel like Jill got lost in translation. I kind of feel like she was just thrown in the story because four is better than three. But in my opinion, Jill’s presence in this novel doesn’t add anything to the story. She was just someone who happened to be around.

I can tell you, I did enjoy this novel.  But I can also tell you that if the summer club was centered around movies or cooking, I probably wouldn’t have liked it all that much.  I think the fact that this novel focuses so much on literature is the reason why the story developed into one that I liked.  The five works of literature discussed in this novel (The Yellow Wallpaper, Frankenstein, The Left Hand of Darkness, The House on Mango Street, and The Awakening) really allowed for some dynamic MC development that would not have been able to be conveyed otherwise.  I appreciate Ms. Schumacher’s incorporation of these major works of literature into her characters lives.  It really appealed to the booklover in me!

Surrounding the bookclub plot is the coming of age story, which mostly has to do with self-acceptance what the lack of a father means for Adrienne’s place in the world.  This becomes one of those subplots that seems more “thrown in for character development and growth” than anything else–if this were removed, it wouldn’t affect the story at all.  But Adrienne does find a way to define herself in her small town world, and she learns some valuable lessons about friendships and mother-daughter relationships along the way, and this is mostly because of Wallis.  Out of the other three girls in this story, Wallis is the most dynamic and most crucial to the story, and she ended up being my favorite character.  There is just something loveable about her to readers (and to A’s mom) that the other girls don’t quite understand.

I must say, the ending has a complete shock (which surprises me coming from a YA contemporary), but Ms. Schumacher sets up a beautiful open-ended Epilogue to her cute cute contemporary YA.  Overall, I found this book to be enjoyable for lovers of literature like myself.

Interesting imagery:

“I squeegeed the sweat from my eyebrows with an index finger.”–page 4

I kind of found this sentence to be very strange and slightly awkward.  But maybe that’s just me…?

Memorable Quotes:

“Books can be very powerful.  They bring a feeling of freedom, isn’t that right?  You almost feel, while you are reading…as if you have entered an alternate life.  As if you could be an entirely different person.”  –page 64

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book.

What starts out as a “mothers force their daughters into a book club” book actually turns into a coming of age story centered around literature!  A cute and likeable read for fans of contemporary YA fiction and who love books!

Love and Kate Chopin,
Jennifer

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