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Vegan Virgin Valentine Hardcover – July 22, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the V Valentine Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Overachieving high school senior Mara Valentine's drive stems from the belief that she is her parents' "Only Hope"; her 35-year-old sister has achieved nothing but having a daughter, V, who is only a year younger than Mara and appears to be a "nicotine-addicted nympho." Sport for Mara is competing with her ex-boyfriend for class valedictorian; she has been accepted early decision to Yale. Mara is a sharp, interesting narrator, but she has alienated most of her friends with her rigid, single-minded attitudes. Her life is thrown into chaos when V comes to live with the family, and provides multiple shades of gray in Mara's black-and-white world. She makes out with Mara's ex on the first day of school and constantly makes cutting, but frighteningly accurate, comments about the limitations of her aunt's life plans. In the midst of this chaos, while working part-time at a local café, Mara falls in love with her 22-year-old boss who hasn't gone to college and is forced to reassess the goals that V has already called into question. The romance is believable, as is the tension between Mara and V, although both situations resolve smoothly and somewhat quickly. This is a fast, often humorous read with some meat but no bite (although Mara does lose her virginity)–just the universal theme of growing up and figuring out what's important. This title will have strong appeal for teens grappling with these same questions.–Karyn N. Silverman, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-12. Besides the words vegan and virgin, overachiever also describes Mara Valentine. A straight-A senior who has been accepted by Yale, Mara is trying to beat out her ex-boyfriend for another v-word, valedictorian. Then, into her well-ordered life flies her same-age niece, Vivian, known as V. V is living with the family because her mom, Mara's much older sister, is trying to find herself yet again. V is the anti-Mara, a smoking, drinking loser with a fondness for the F word. Wisely, Mackler does not frame this as the story of opposites trying to get along. In fact, with a little love from her grandparents and a part in the school play, V turns herself around with unbelievable ease. She is, however, a catalyst for Mara to examine her own behavior, and this is where the book rings true. In a knowing first-person voice, Mara explores her tightly woven relationship with her parents, the pressure she puts on herself to get ahead, and the growing feeling she has for an older guy. By the book's conclusion Mara is no longer a virgin or a vegan, but her transformation has been entirely credible and, for readers anyway, thoroughly enjoyable. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (July 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763621552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763621551
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,083,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Meet Mara Valentine. She has "type A blood, a type A personality, and . . . an A-cup bra." Mara is on the fast track to success: she's duking it out for valedictorian, she's been accepted early decision by Yale, and she's already taking college courses. Mara's much older sister Aimee has always been a screw-up, traveling around the world in search of the next big thing. Mara is desperate not to disappoint her mom and dad the way Aimee did --- she has to succeed because she is her parents' "Only Hope."

Secretly, though, Mara is vulnerable: her college courses have left her without many high school friends, and she's still reeling from a painful breakup with equally high-achieving Travis. She hides her insecurities by trying to control absolutely everything, from her schedule to her emotions to her diet. She confesses that she has become a vegan not only because she is "grossed out by animal byproducts" but because veganism is "all-consumingly obsessive. . . . It can be a pain, but it helps keep my mind off things."

That's why, when Aimee's troublemaking daughter (and Mara's niece), sixteen-year-old V, comes to live with Mara's family while Aimee chases her surfer boyfriend to Costa Rica, Mara is furious. V has always had the ability to see through Mara's veneer and to call attention to Mara's fears and anxieties. When V moves in on Mara's ex, Mara vows never to be friends with this "class-ditching, chair-in-the-principal's-office-warming deadbeat."

V's tough-talking, no-nonsense attitude does rub off on Mara, though, as she begins to question why she has made the choices she has. When she starts to have feelings for James, her boss at the coffee shop, her life gets even more confused.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know what Carolyn Mackler's problem with veganism is, but she obviously has one.

This problem comes through almost like an agenda throughout the book. First of all, there's no way that a protagonist as intelligent as Mara wouldn't know why she didn't eat dairy and eggs as a vegan. (Eggs come from layer hens who are treated arguably worse than any other animal in today's modern factory farms; milk relies on separating a calf from its mother and sending the boy calves off for veal production, the other arguably worst agricultural practice today). Right away Mackler lost all credibility with me, there. No intelligent 17-year-old vegan would list her reason as: eggs come from a chicken's butt. Puh-leaze.

Then there's the oh-so-touching conversation with the mom in the car - But Mara, there is no right and wrong. Oh really? I'd love to have a discussion with Mackler about the philosophical and ethical implications of *that* statement.

Finally, Mara's "liberation" partly occurs when she orders cheese. I don't know, I guess I just wanted some, is her lame excuse.

There are ex-vegans out there (I'm wondering if Mackler is one), and many of them became vegans for half-baked reasons, or left veganism and then tried to justify it with a bunch of silly philosophies that they then prop up as much as possible. I've heard this before, as in, "I didn't want to be so rigid." I wonder if that's Mackler's thing.

But, speaking as a vegan, most of us don't dream of grilled cheese; we have actual reasons for not eating eggs and milk that you should look into by reading something like Peter Singer's "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter", c) we do believe in the radical concept (!
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Format: Hardcover
Being a vegan, I was excited to pick up the book. I haven't read a horrible book in a long time, and was disappointed to realize this was probably the worst book I have ever read. The character is not a vegan by the end of the book, which was probably the most disappointing aspect, but the characters were unrealistic and the plot was extremely boring and unoriginal. It was a quick read and you can read it in less than an hour, but I advise you not to waste your time.
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Format: Paperback
Many of the reviews on this book talk about it in a negative light, some are well-worded, and others miss the "point" of the story completely. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I feel that this book should have at least a few positive statements on it.

It's not a fantastic book, I've read better in this genre, and out of this genre there are better books, but I think for anybody who is just willing to sit back and escape their world for a while, it's a perfect book for that- which is what a book should be.

The story, as noted in other reviews is about a straight A high school student who, with the onset of her niece coming to live with her family and a new romantic relationship, is forced to re-evaluate why she wants to be valedictorian, and have enough college credits to begin college as a sophomore. It's your basic over-achiever who overcomes who she is "suppose" to be, to become who she really is.

There aren't any major revelations, when reading it, you know the course is inevitable and there aren't any major plot twists, but what makes the book entertaining is the language it's written in. It's not brilliant, but its a fast read, and fun- some parts can be laugh out loud funny if you're just willing to go along with it. I'd recommend it to anybody who just wants to sit back and be mildly amused for a few hours- not people looking for deeper meaning or characters with deep human complex emotions- what you get is on the page, and not a whole lot more, but I don't want my 4 hours back that it took to read it, so I feel like in the end, it was worth it.
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