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Out of the Blue

Italian book blogger. Loves Jane Austen, ice cream, and the colour blue.
Vegan, Virgin, Valentine - Carolyn Mackler I was lucky enough to find the Italian translation of this book in the kids section at the library. I'm quite perplexed as to why a book aimed at older teens, which openly discusses sex and pot smoking, would be published in an Italian book series for tweens and younger teens (11+), complete with cartoonish covers in fluo colours. Maybe because it's a funny book. I wouldn't give this to an eleven-year-old, though - I think it's a 14+ book.

Mara Valentine is a model student. She's a senior in high school, will be going to Yale in the fall (early acceptance), works at a coffee place, and is running against her ex-boyfriend for valedictorian. She's going to high school in the morning and taking university courses in the afternoon, and will be attending a special summer program, so that she can start university as a second-year student. She's a vegan, and a virgin.

Things start to change when her niece V (Mara has an older sister who is a single mother in her mid thirties) moves to her house. V is only a year younger than Mara, dates a string of guys, smokes pot, and runs a bit wild. The relationship between the two girls is strained at first, because Mara is hurt when V fooled around with her ex boyfriend. Later, they start to get on better with each other.

The whole book follows Mara as she questions who she is and what she wants to become. First of all, her veganism isn't deeply rooted. She went vegan so that she could focus on something other than her broken heart, and it's hard for her to give up cheese and dairy products. I know people have criticized the book for this. I don't really care about veganism (I could never give up meat, much less milk, cheese and yoghurt) and find it hard to understand why anyone would want to make their life so complicated. So I'm not concerned with Mara's not-so-heartfelt veganism and I cheered her when she started eating cheese again.

Mara's academic drive is fueled by her well-meaning parents. When she falls in love, though, she is not so interested in schoolwork anymore. She drops a college course, and ultimately decides she won't do the summer program, so that she can spend two more months with her boyfriend. I don't think it's bad that she changes her life for a guy. I have a feeling she did it mainly for herself. Also, was it really necessary for her to start college at second year instead of first? Why the rush?

I liked this book very much. It was fun, but also dealt with serious topics. I'd recommend to lovers of YA contemporary romance. I know there's a second book in the series, Guyaholic, which focuses on V's last year of high school. I think I'll be looking for it soon.

Cover attraction: is this V's infamous tank top with the "I'm a girl who can never say no" writing? Cute.