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Love and Other Four-Letter Words Hardcover – October 10, 2000
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Until this summer, the biggest problems 16-year-old Samantha Davis faced were her embarrassingly large breasts, (nicknamed "the Grand Tetons after those mountains in Wyoming,") and the fact that her gorgeous best friend, Kitty, always made her feel like a Plain Jane: "It sounds awful, but if you saw a Jaguar and a Ford Taurus parked next to each other, which one would you want to drive?" But now Sammie's parents are splitting, and suddenly she is being assaulted by changes from every direction. She is forced to move from upstate New York to Manhattan, play nursemaid to her depressed mother, and suffer the utter boredom of not knowing anyone in a city of 8 million. But then she meets Eli, the cute "crunchy granola" son of her mom's friend, and Phoebe, the quirky girl in Central Park who categorizes people by the dog breed they resemble. Exposure to the urban scene, new friendships, and a developing sense of self cause Sammie to realize "that along with love comes other four-letter words. Like hate, obviously.... And gain. And most important, grow."
Like other recently published first novelists Lori Aurelia Williams (When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune) and Cat Bauer, (Harley: Like a Person), Carolyn Mackler convincingly captures all the drama, longing, and humor of 21st-century female adolescence. Fresh, funny, and completely irreverent, Love and Other Four-Letter Words is destined to find a place in the hearts of teenaged girls. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
Though first-time novelist Mackler creates a sympathetic 16-year-old narrator filled with realistic anxieties, her dependence on familiar themes and plot development, plus heavy-handed pop culture references, makes for a lukewarm read. When Sammie's parents decide on a trial separation, she calls it "the obliteration of the belief that Mom and Dad were the 7th Heaven,we-have-problems-yet-we-gleefully-work-through-them type of parents." Her Cornell professor father heads off on sabbatical in California, while her mother, a stifled artist, yanks Sammie with her from Ithaca to New York City. The protagonist must deal with adjusting to a new city, a depressed mother who can't get out of bed, and only seems to manage monosyllabic responses to her father's phone conversations. When her narcissistic best friend, Kitty, comes to visit, they fight and Kitty leaves in a huff citing " irreconcilable differences." Sammie finds support in a new bond with Phoebe, an offbeat dog lover, and Eli, the hippie son of her mother's college roommate. Readers will relate to Sammie's internalized self-loathing; she's self-conscious about everything from her name, to her over-developed figure, to her only-been-kissed-once status. But they will likely predict the exact moment when Sammie and Eli will share their first kiss and when her father will finally reappear to sort out built-up tensions. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Sammie's voice it's true and autentic and full of warmth. Phobe kept me lauging and Sammie did something I wish I would do about my parents.
Great book, a must read
Genre: YA Contemporary
Recommended Age: 16+
Favorite Quote: "That along with love comes other four-letter words. Like hate, obviously. And loss. And gain. And most importantly, grow."
Sammie Davis, not the entertainer, used to have a good life. She considers herself an average girl, but she lived in a middle-class home with her mother, father, and her dog Moxie. Then, her life hit a rough patch. Her parents decide to go through a trial separation. Sammie soon finds herself whisked away to New York City in a cramped Manhattan apartment while her father is enjoying freedom in California. Not only has her whole life been shaken and she has started getting anxiety from the whole ordeal, she doesn't like how she physically looks, she's never had a boyfriend, and her gorgeous best friend uses her as a therapist. As Sammie's summer drags on, she struggles to deal with the separation and dealing with her mother who is, for lack of a better word, irresponsible. This is the story about how Sammie learns to deal with this rocky patch in her life and how she comes to understand that along with love come other four-letter words: hate, loss, gain... and grow.
When I first stumbled across this book I was about 15. I found it at a local used bookstore and I bought it because I thought the title was pretty cool. Since I have the strangest system for choosing books, this book sat on my shelf for... well until yesterday. I was sure I was going to DNF this book before I even started it because I looked at it and thought the book was too young for me now. I pushed myself to start it though and I'm so glad I did. This book is a little like Judy Blume's controversial book "Forever". It's a coming of age book that is honest about sex and growing up. While the main character does not have sex, it is discussed in passing between her and her friend Kitty, who is not a virgin anymore. The book also offers a very realistic take on how a teenage girl deals with the events like Sammie has to go through. A lot of times the response is to bottle up the emotions and explode later on. The author crafted beautiful characters and a beautiful story. You come to care for every character in the story, even the characters you will hate.
My only complaint about the book is that it was a fast read and the story leaves many unanswered questions... but the story is about life and in life we will always have unanswered questions. The book also may not be suitable for many younger audiences based on the content and based on parent's differing opinions about what should be and shouldn't be available to teenagers. I find the book to be a must-read for any teen and any adult (as the lessons taught in this book are ones we need to be reminded of time and time again throughout our life). However, if you're a minor, then have your parents review this book before getting in trouble please. My recommended age was based off of my own personal experience of being gifted Forever at 16 years old.
OK, good news first. The best thing about this book is that Carolyn Mackler truly does seem to identify with teenagers and create a fairly true-to-life character. With the exception of the discussion about and the actual dealing with boy/boyfriend troubles, I understood what Sammie was going through and found that I identified with many of her experiences. (I don't have a boyfriend; too happy and busy for one, thank you very much :-)). Furthermore, Mackler's humor, infused throughout the character of Sammie, was REALLY funny. For example, how can you not laugh when Sammie refers to her chest as the "Grand Tetons" and likens her popular friend to a "sports car" and herself to a "Ford Taurus?" But despite these solid aspects of "Love and Other Four-Letter Words," the was a major problem at the root of the story-it was incredibly cliched. With other "I'm-just-an-ordinary-teenager-but-I-can-be-the-heroine-of-a-book" stories around (think Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging," Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries," and Joan Bauer's "Hope Was Here"), this book really did just seem like more of the same. It is truly one of those books that I will probably not even remember six months from now, simply because it is soooooo similar to soooo much of the other pulp that is said to be young adult "literature." Realistic main character, occasional humor...yet too much "vanilla" for me!