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You, Maybe: The Profound Asymmetry of Love in High School Paperback – June 26, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Josie is an independent, self-assured sophomore who doesn't care what anyone thinks about her–until Carson Gold, senior and hottest guy around, suddenly shows an interest. Neither Josie nor her best friends quite understand why she tentatively indulges his attention. At first, she makes out with both Carson and Michael, her neighbor and longtime best friend, following her own philosophy of not getting too involved with one person. Though her friends discourage the relationship, pointing to Carson's fame as a heartbreaker, Josie still finds herself falling for him and his lifestyle. She begins to dress to impress and alters her behavior to fit in with the Beautiful People. Pleased to see Josie taking an interest in her appearance, and also impressed by Carson, her mother approves Josie's request to go on a trip with him and his friends. Several traumatic events during the weekend lead Josie to rediscover what is really important to her. Ultimately, she proves that she is the bright, secure person her friends have always admired. Throughout her first-person narrative, confident vs. insecure Josie argues with herself about all of her relationships, giving readers a true glimpse of her confusion. Her friends are realistically portrayed and their reactions to her romance add to the story's development. Josie shows what often happens to a smart, young woman when a charismatic young man starts paying attention to her. This cautionary tale begs to be read by girls everywhere, before, during, and after they fall in love.–Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-11. As always with Vail's books, it's the voice that takes precedence. Here, it belongs to independent sophomore Josie, who earns money working as a clown at children's parties. Thinking she's immune to the charms of golden-boy senior Carson, she hooks up with him a couple of times. But when Carson declares he has feelings for her, she's caught as surely as a fish on a hook. Josie is a profoundly appealing character, although the rest of the story is hard to believe: Would Josie really ever catch Carson's eye? Would his love for her grow when she shows up for a party at his house wearing her clown suit? As Josie slowly loses herself to Carson, Carson withdraws his "love," finally returning to an old girlfriend as Josie begs him not to leave. There's something depressing about this--the casual hookups (second base), Josie's pathetic unwinding. But, perhaps that's part of the point of this morality tale, which concludes with babbling Josie uttering lines such as, "You were my first love, Carson." No one wants to end up like that. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060569190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060569198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,288,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rachel Vail Author Biography

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Can't say I have just one, but here is one among many: My father, an avid amateur gardener, had determined to get rid of a rock in the middle of his flower bed in our backyard. The rock turned out to be the size of Tennessee, but he just kept digging for a few years, trying to budge the thing, which created an ever-changing landscape for backyard adventures. My younger brother Jon was my constant companion out there, and our favorite game was "Time Machine," which involved a mysterious metal thing sticking up from the ground - obviously a gear shift for moving into the past or future. Jon was the pilot, in charge of bringing us to different times, depending on how he moved the mysterious metal thing. I was the "teller": I would tell the story of what time period we landed in, what was happening, the dangers we faced, which bad guys were chasing us around the back, the rock, and the Way Back (where we weren't even supposed to go but we did; don't tell!), what we needed to collect around the yard -- a magic gem, a twig from the tree of wonder -- and how we would be able to get back to our time Machine to get back to home and the present when my Mom called to us to come in for dinner.

My younger son was complaining yesterday that the problem with grownups is that they don't play as runny-aroundy as kids. He is absolutely right.

2. What is your favorite memory from when you were a teenager?

How about my least favorite but most useful? I was at a dance at the Rye Golf Club with my best friend, Jill. We had decided to really go for it, get all duded up and mascara'ed. I wore my hottest outfit -- a one-piece, strapless pantsuit. (It was the early 80's; that's what was hot. Trust me.) We had practiced dancing all week: step-together-clap; slightly bored expression combined with slight head-bobbing. Luck was with us at first -- two cute boys came right over to ask us to dance. I looked slightly bored while repeating my mantra internally: step-together-clap, nod. The boy was smiling at me, checking me out. I was succeeding! Jill step-together-clapped her way to my side and said, "Don't panic, but your top fell off." I looked down and there for everybody to see was my white strapless bra, looking like an ace bandage across my lack-of-anything to hold up my wilted outfit. I ran straight to the Ladies' Room with my arms crossed over my chest. Jill was right behind me, and sat beside me on the cold linoleum as I cried. "I was naked," I wailed. "Only briefly," Jill assured me. "I am never leaving this Ladies' Room," I told her. "Okay," she said. "I'll stay here with you." "Forever?" I asked. "Sure," she said. "We'll be two little old ladies here when they come to wreck the building, but we still won't leave." "I'm serious," I said. "Me too," she answered.

I recall that moment whenever I am writing and my character needs to feel the soul-burning humiliation of being exposed in front of the world -- whether figuratively or literally. I can still feel the cold shivers in my fingers, still smell the disinfectant in the restroom, still hear the distant echoes of the disco beat beyond as I sat there feeling utterly stupid and naked and embarrassed. But I also use it when I want to feel how reassuring it is for a character to realize a friend is willing to stick with her forever, no matter what.

3. How did you end up becoming a writer?

What I always loved to do was read, tell stories, imagine being other people, eavesdrop, and not wear shoes. What else could I end up becoming?

4. What other jobs have you tried?

I worked in a book store, which I loved except when people interrupted my reading by trying to make purchases. I was a really good babysitter and a lousy magician but kind of a fun clown at kids' birthday parties. I worked in theater -- acting, directing, selling tickets, dressing and undressing actors (!), ironing costumes, sewing stuff... I still can't make buttons stay on all that well, but I am a pretty decent ironer. I also tutored for SAT's, and GRE's, as well as regular school subjects from bio and algebra to English and writing, and specialized in working with kids who have learning troubles.

5. What first appealed to you about writing for teens?

Well, I started writing my first book when I was 22, so I'd had some recent experience. But really there were two things. I had always looked young for my age, and used to vow to myself that I would remember what it really felt like to be a kid and NEVER condescend when I grew up but rather bear witness to and show respect for the struggles of metamorphosis experienced by a teen going through it. Also, a brilliant playwrighting professor I had in college told us that drama exists in the life-or-death moments: those instances when the character's life is at mortal risk are the scenes you should write. I realized that he had just described pretty much every moment of being a teenager. Just a walk down the corridor in eighth grade can feel like a death march, if somebody looks at you sideways, then slides her eyes away and bends to whisper to somebody else, who turns immediately to look at you -- and snickers. Oh, dread. Life could end or begin at any moment, beside your locker, and the murder weapon, like your pride, might never be recovered. That's what continues to appeal to me about writing for teens: metamorphosis. It's so awful and wonderful and public and extreme.

6. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Mostly, honestly, in my head. I pick up details of phrases or styles of sitting from watching people all the time, and listening, eavesdropping, on the subway, in the market, in the changing room of a department store. Kids write to me about what they are going through, and of course I have my own journals to re-read, so I mine my own memories and fears and hopes. But mostly my ideas come from wondering: what would happen if my parents suddenly lost all their money? ... if I always thought of myself as kind of funny-looking and suddenly I was chosen for being gorgeous? What if I discovered I was profoundly gifted in some way? What if I learned something shatteringly disappointing about my mom? What if I fell in love with somebody I shouldn't? What if I lied to my best friend and then had to keep lying so she wouldn't find out? What if my best friend lied to me and I found out? What would be the worst thing that could happen to me? What would be the best? But I am not asking those questions of myself, Rachel Vail. I build a character over the course of many months, and then ask those kinds of questions of her - until I get to the start of an answer that is so interesting to me that I have to write a book to find out what happens.

6. Who in your life has especially inspired or motivated you?

So many people have motivated and inspired me -- teachers who asked for revisions and edits and focus; librarians who found books for me and communicated their passion to me; friends who are funny and honest about whatever they are going through and so articulate about expressing their frustrations and ambitions; my husband who believes in me and laughs at all the right moments; my kids who come home with stories and ask to hear mine, again and again, and then give me harsh but loving (and smart) editorial feedback. My brother taught me to tell stories by wanting to play them with me; my parents were my first and most enthusiastic audience (before my kids came along, at least.) Now editors and my agent, who are some of my first readers, press me to think deeper, go further, try new challenges. I'm also inspired by great writers: when I read something I love, I read it again and again, trying to figure out how did he or she DO that? I want to move people the way my favorite writers (from John Steinbeck to Judy Blume to Bruce Springsteen) move me. And finally, readers who write to me with their honest and powerful reactions to my books, asking for sequels and for clarification of what happens after the book ends, who let me know that my characters live on beyond the page, in them -- they are my greatest current inspiration.

7. What do you consider to be the most fun part of your job?

The absolute most fun thing for me as a writer is getting to the point in a book, usually about 20 or more drafts in, when a sentence is changed, sometimes by cutting three words or substituting one phrase for four -- and suddenly the character has just said something so right for her, so true and funny and wise and so unique to that character that nobody else could've said it. That just makes my whole day. Man, I could be happy for a week off one great sentence.

8. What part of your job do you find the most challenging?

The first 19 drafts.

9. If you had to assign a book title to your life, what would it be?

I'm not sure. I'm hoping there will be many more years before that book is done. Maybe, by then, it will be: The Most Brilliant, Happy, Successful, Generous Person Ever. But for right now, I think I would have to go with the title of my new paperback book, which could apply with perhaps less irony to my own phenomenally blessed life: LUCKY.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on June 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Love is a brat," Josie's new crush, Carson, tells her. "Whatever you don't love, loves you. But whatever you love kicks your butt." Carson Gold isn't just any crush. He's a hot senior who had a very public breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Emelina. He then ran through several girls who Josie scorns as she sees them begging him to take them back at the parties she and her friends crash on weekends.

Josie doesn't believe in love. She's happy hanging out with her two best gal pals, Zandra and Tru, and her longtime best friend Michael. She even enjoys running little kids' birthday parties, doing magic tricks dressed as Tallulah the Clown. Her life is full and uncomplicated. It is true that she and Michael make out frequently, but they're still just friends, she believes.

Things get complicated though when Carson starts noticing Josie. She discovers that even she is not immune to his many charms. Things start out with secret makeout sessions during their free seventh periods. She continues to write songs and make out with Michael, which begins to feel weird.

Carson doesn't call her and they don't really go out. But then he starts getting serious, asking her to be his girlfriend and to stop being with Michael. After some convincing, Josie agrees. She scraps plans for Michael's birthday and starts hanging out with Carson and his popular crowd, which includes his ex-girlfriend.

Soon Josie is changing how she dresses, how she acts, and canceling birthday party gigs to go spend a weekend with Carson at his ex's cabin. Josie tells him about how much she loves him and is even thinking about having sex with Carson, who is pushing her farther than she has ever gone during makeout sessions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book. It is deep but also funny and so intense. It is about Josie, who has always been strong and smart and comfortable with herself, and how she falls in love with gorgeous, charming Carson -- and throws away everything important to her, trying to keep him. ACK!!!! I know exactly how she feels! Rachel Vail absolutely captures the feelings (fantastic AND devastating) you have when the most important thing in your life is this one special relationship, and even when you KNOW you shouldn't do stuff (call him constantly, IM him, ask him what's wrong, cry in front of him) you just can't help it, you are nuts and obsessed and lost all track of who you used to be. I love Josie. I love this book. It just came out yesterday and my mom got it for me and I read it last night without looking up from it once! I couldn't stop! I just had to find out what happened... and now I can't wait to read it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Klb1991 on August 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Waste of time book. The ending was AWFUL like someone rushed her to finish it, what about Michael? He actually loved her and she and the author literally just wrote him off like he never meant a thing. Waste of time and money to read this stupid book, would NOT recommend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katie Alison on September 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Okay, I would like to talk to the author and ask her what the deal was? When I first started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. VERY interesting! Loved the story! Could relate. Loved Josie and the way she could be cool when talking to guys. Loved the use of "You, maybe". That was PRICELESS!! I could never do that! That was so funny. I wish I had the courage to be like that in high school. (I'm 26 now.) Anyway, I really loved reading the book, but I HAVE to say, it's really bugging me. It ended really bad. The book just needs 1 more chapter. I was sooo hoping for Josie to end up with Michael and it would have a wonderful happy ending. I can't believe it ended the way it did. There needs to be a sequal. But then again, it really only needs one more chapter I think, not a whole other book. I'd like to know what the author was thinking in not having a good ending. Real life is too dissapointing as it is, books need to have wonderful happy endings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deja You Gurl on November 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
A pretty good book that I mostly enjoyed until the ending. It completely ruined it for me. I wanted to shake the author and ask what the heck she was thinking! If she was trying to display the effects of teenage dating, then she did so terribly. What a waste of paper.
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Format: Paperback
At first, when you begin to read this book, it reminds you a lot like Twilight. Unrealistic, mismatched romance. Read on, and you will find i's not. In fact, it's quite the opposite. And that is what makes it perfect--it is the ideal antidote for this Edward-obsessed generation of developing young women..
At the beginning, Josie is an independent, philosophical, free sophomore in high school. At the end, she is a boring, trying-to fit in, tight pink sweater kind of girl. How did this happen?
Carson -- the ideal senior, right? This story is amazing because it really portrays how much young girls fantasize in high school. She fantasizes that Carson loves her because they have the same spirit in ways, that he is vulnerable and tough at the same time, and that he loves her unconditionally. In truth, it's all a facade so he doesn't look like a loser while his ex (that he hasn't gotten over--and Josie knows this as a fact before she falls before Carson at the beginning on the book) is going out wih a sophomore in College.
Anyway, in the end, all of Josie's fantasies fall apart. But she keeps rebuilding them in the hopes that she won't look like the fool she abhores at the beginning of the book. (At the beginning, Carson has just broken up with another girl who screams and cries that she loves him in the middle of a party).
But she finds herself in a tense scene acting exactly as the girl she pitied so much.
In the end, she regains her poise and her cleverness and her common sense in a very (cute?) (clever?) way. Which is a much, much better ending than what I was expecting...I was expecing Josie to get together with her old love, Michael.
I don't know what this negative feedback is about. I think, like all books, you should hear it out to the end and make the judgement.
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You, Maybe: The Profound Asymmetry of Love in High School
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