readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rgz Street Team: Miss Erin Reviews A Little Friendly Advice and Same Difference, by Siobhan Vivian

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss Erin. Find out more.

Today, Miss Erin reviews A Little Friendly Advice and Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian!

A Little Friendly Advice begins on the eve of Ruby's 16th birthday. Her mom's given her a present, all of her friends have arrived, and she's gearing up for a fun night. That is, until her dad--who she hasn't seen since he left her and her mom, years ago--shows up at the apartment. Pretty soon it feels like all the relationships in her life are unraveling, and Ruby doesn't know who to turn to or what to do.

A Little Friendly Advice was refreshing in that its focus was on relationships with friends and family, which are two of the biggest factors in a teenager's life. But usually those themes tend to get neglected in a lot of YA books to make room for a focus on problems/issues (which are factors too, but always alongside friend-and-family relationships) and romance. When a boy does show up in Ruby's life, he doesn't suddenly sweep her off her feet and solve all of her problems. That relationship is muddy and unclear, too. Complicated. The book really nailed how, as you grow older, relationships that used to be black and white - with relatives, or with friends - suddenly aren't clear-cut anymore. Suddenly there's angst and grayness.

Read the rest of this review on Miss Erin's blog here.

Same Difference centers around the main character Emily's adventures at a summer art camp in Philadelphia. It's a coming-of-age story in the true sense: throughout the book, Emily undergoes a complete transformation of self, the way she sees the world, and the way she sees the people and world around her.

This book started off a little slow for me, but I'm so glad I stuck with it, because I enjoyed it a lot. Just as with the author's first book, I loved and was grateful for the focus being on the friendship vs. romance. Yeah, there was a romance, but it wasn't the sole defining experience of Emily's time at the art program.

The best thing about Same Difference was all the wonderful themes it explored. For instance, it showed that transitional time of being a teenager; the defining moment when you realize that your world is a slate that you can experiment and draw on, and if you don't like what you are right now, you can erase and start over. But you also realize that even if you want to start completely over, there's stuff you can't simply make go away. You can change yourself, but you can't (as much as you might want to) make the people around you change. Sometimes you can't even make them realize that you've changed.

Read the rest of this review on Miss Erin's blog here.


runa said...

Oh, I had definitely noticed the same thing. I'm really glad the focus is on friends rather than relationships, particularly in Same Difference where the friendship is much more powerful and volatile than any romantic relationship.

Little Willow said...

Three cheers for Siobhan Vivian! Three very loud, very cheery cheers. Great author, great books.

We postergirlz (Erin included!) made A Little Friendly Advice one of the recommended reads in the March 2008 issue of readergirlz to go along with Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

Melissa Walker said...

Love these books!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Me, too. Thanks, Miss Erin. This book has stuck with me.

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