Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)
by Sarah Mlynowski
June 7, 2011
Borrowed from Library
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
I seriously read this book while peeking through my fingers. The choices April made were so bad and so teenager-y that I couldn’t even handle it. I wanted to shake her for being stupid and shake her parents for letting her stay in Westport and basically yell at everyone involved.
So yeah, one could say I was a little over-involved in this book. It’s probably because I could see myself making every single one of April’s choices if I’d been given the opportunity when I was sixteen, and I’m so happy I never had the opportunity (mostly because I had to beg for weeks to be allowed to spend a weekend with my best friend at college when I was a senior in high school).
But beyond all those personal issues, I really enjoyed reading Ten Things.... April was an engaging narrator, and I loved how the narrative jumped back and forth between the past and present as the former was needed to explain references. It felt like a friend was telling you the story and having to keep jump back to fill you in on the people or places referred to. In a weaker author’s hands, this style probably would have been annoying or confusing, but Mlynowski made it charming and a lot of fun to read.
Each of the girls - April, her housemate Vi, and her best friend Marissa - developed and matured through the novel. We only see April’s point of view, but all three are challenged by their families, their boyfriends, and their friendships, and we get to see all three learn from the challenges and overcome them. The boys in the book weren’t nearly as well-defined. Several of them - Dean and Hudson in particular - were sweet, but none of their characterizations were more than that one dimension.
I think that’s the weakest point of the book. I would have liked to see the boys that these girls are interested in be well-developed as the girls themselves. I also found the premise itself unbelievable. A caring parent will really allow his daughter to stay with a friend's "mom" without ever meeting her? But I'm willing to accept most premises if the story that follows is a good one, and this one is.
Mlynowski always writes an entertaining story. I enjoyed the light fluffiness of Gimme a Call, and I enjoyed Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) even more. I can’t wait to see what she does next!