Review: 40 Things I Want to Tell You by Alice Kuipers
Source: Paperback, Published February 10th 2012 by HarperTrophy Canada
Verdict: Very Good
Amy (a.k.a. Bird) seems to have the perfect life: loving parents, a hot boyfriend, the best friend ever. She even writes an online advice column, full of Top Tips, to help other teens take control of their lives. But after a new guy shows up at school, Bird can’t seem to follow her own wisdom.
Pete is the consummate bad boy. He’s everything Bird is not: wild, unambitious and more than a little dangerous. Although she knows he’s trouble, Bird can’t stay away. And the more drawn she is to Pete, the more cracks are revealed in her relationship with Griffin, her doting boyfriend. Meanwhile, her parents’ marriage is also fracturing, possibly for good.
Bird is way out of her comfort zone. All it takes is one mistake, one momentary loss of control, for her entire future to be blown away …
I have read and enjoyed Kuipers’ other YA works, Life on the Refrigerator Door and The Worst Thing She Ever Did. Those novels both packed an emotional punch and 40 Things I Want to Tell You is no different.
When I finished reading the last sentence of this novel, I just sat there. And then I immediately needed to talk about this book. There is a lot of depth to this book; I found it a very emotional, if not slightly difficult read. Not because it is not well-written. I thought it was beautifully written- but it is such an affecting read.
The novel’s protagonist, Bird, starts off as a relatively unassuming British teen. She has her own issues, but she appears grounded. She is a very good student, studies hard, and is prepping herself to apply to Oxford University. Bird also runs an online teen advice blog; though while her advice to strangers is usually solid, she herself doesn’t always follow her own good advice. As we get into the novel, Bird’s problems start to bleed to the surface. She doesn’t feel physically attracted to her best friend and boyfriend, Griffin. Griffin is (and has been) patient with Bird’s hesitation to take their relationship to the next physical level, but Bird keeps avoiding any talk about it. Bird starts to notice kinks in her mother’s behavior and in her parents marriage. And then Pete, brooding, dangerous Pete enters the picture. New to school, Pete immediately catches everyone’s attention. Bird is both terrified yet electrified by Pete and discovers that Pete may be attracted to her.
Then Bird does something she never thought could or would happen to her.
I can’t give away much more here, I’m afraid. I thought I knew which direction Kuipers was going to take the story, but then it builds and twists into something much more- much more uncompromising and gritty. And I think it will leave you with a lot to think about. This novel (and Kuipers’ other works) might appeal to readers who like more intense contemporary YA, or for those who like Nick Hornby, Amy Efaw, or Laurie Halse Anderson. Recommended reading to all.
Note: This review, written by me, originally appeared on Fabbity Fab Book Reviews. Minor edits may have been made.