When it comes to contemporary YA fiction, I really enjoy Jessica Brody. Her books are light and fun. I reviewed both THE KARMA CLUB and MY LIFE UNDECIDED.
Brody's new novel, 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER, doesn't break new boundaries, but it follows an expected path and is a straight-through read. It also falls into that mysterious "New Adult" category that's been buzzed about lately, not quite teen, but not yet adult, either. The story is tame enough to still be read by teens, while the character is old enough to be embraced by "New Adults" as well.
The book centers around Lexington Larrabee, a spoiled heiress with too much money to burn. She's a spoiled brat. She knows this, but she doesn't care. She's always in the tabloids for her antics, and her famous dad is constantly paying hush money to get her out of trouble. As the novel begins, Lexi has finally gone too far, crashing her brand-new, custom-made car into a convenience store. About to turn eighteen and receive her inheritance, her father decides to take charge and teach Lexi a life lesson. She has to wait a year to receive her 25 million dollars and prove that she's responsible by working a different low-wage job every week for 52 weeks. If she doesn't, he'll cut her off completely. Lexi is forced to work as a maid, as a grocery store employee, as a fast food clerk, and various other odd jobs. At first she hates it and tries everything to get out of trouble, but once she starts embracing the positive aspects of her situation and emphasizing with the way others live, she begins to become a better, kinder person.
At first, I really disliked Lexi--and I was supposed to! Brody was a pro at building up a dislikable character, then humanizing her by revealing the past that created her. She fleshed out events that occurred with Lexi's parents and showcased just how uncaring Lexi's father is when not in front of a camera. It became easy to sympathize with Lexi and root for her as she began embracing her situation and having fun. I especially loved seeing her change when she worked as a flower delivery girl. While her job "baby-sitter," twenty-year-old intern Luke Carver, isn't as fleshed out as he could be, his presence helps to humanize Lexi and help her get through her punishment. Her friends Jia and T, as well as her ex-boyfriend Mendi, are even less fleshed out, though the story doesn't center around them and Lexi doesn't have as much time for her club-going friends when she has to work and sleep at more reasonable hours, so this didn't really impact the story.
If you're a fan of warm, funny novels full of transformation and character growth, check out 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER when it launches next week.