By Julie Schumacher
Available now from Delacorte Press (Random House)
Adrienne Haus was supposed to spend the summer with her best friend, canoeing. Then she busted her knee and got herself stuck at home for the summer. Even worse, her mother decided to organize a mother-daughter book club with some of the other mother's whose girls are in town for the summer. There's wild and rich Cee-Cee, studious and obedient Jill, and total enigma Wallis. Not exactly who Adrienne would choose to hang with. But then, it's not their choice either.
One of the strengths of THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE is how it uses literature. The club reads THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, FRANKENSTEIN, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, THE AWAKENING, and THE HOUSE ON CISNEROS STREET. It's a great selection of books that high school girls are likely to be familiar with or become interested in due to the story. The actual book club scenes are always great, and it's interesting to see the different interpretations of the text.
But one of the weaknesses of THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE GIRLS is how much it meanders. The opening promises that someone is going to die because of the book club, but the novel doesn't sustain that ominous tone. It's mostly a character study, but a very strange one. Adrienne doesn't really know who she is and she isn't very good at figuring out other people's character either. (And she constantly dismisses Jill as boring when Jill is both clearly awesome and the fount of all gossip.)
Even though THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE GIRLS comes close to being a shaggy dog story I enjoyed reading it. It's not that hard to empathize with a teen girl who just wants something to do (aside from going to a book club with her mom). Of course she runs a bit wild. Summer is super boring when you're stuck at home with no friends. I also liked that the book refused to solve all of its mysteries.
For those who love plot-driven novels, Julie Schumacher's latest is not your best bet. For those who are looking for a fun novel to curl up with in these final days of summer, THE UNBEARABLE BOOK CLUB FOR UNSINKABLE GIRLS might be a good choice. It certainly captures the season.
Think this sounds like a book you might read? If you have read it, what do you think Wallis's secrets were?