I’ve always considered myself a very level-headed sort of person. While my friends struggle through adolescence alternating between moods of rapture and despair, I sail along on a fairly even keel, never–or almost never–going overboard about anything.
So starts “I’ll Never Stop Loving You, Tommy Toledo,” the second of nine stories in Ellen Conford’s If This Is Love, I’ll Take Spaghetti AKA The Best Short Story Collection EVER.
Okay, maybe not. But this book was one of the ones I sought out as I made my through the Friends of the Library book sale. I had to have it. What’s so great about it is that as soon as I opened the book and started reading, the details of all the stories came back to me immediately. It’s just so great. SO GREAT.
The stories, in order, are:
“If This Is Love, I’ll Take Spaghetti” — Jamie wants to lose twenty pounds, but what she really wants is for Jeff to notice her. And he does! But before she loses weight. So does that mean she doesn’t need to diet anymore?
“I’ll Never Stop Loving You, Tommy Toledo” — Level-headed Katie does not entertain celebrity crushes, until she falls hard for Tommy Toledo. She becomes obsessed. OBSESSED. So obsessed she drags her best friend to a concert and then on a stalking mission at his hotel. Is Tommy everything she hoped?
“What Do I Do Now?” — A terrifically shy girl writes to an advice columnist about how to get the boy of her dreams who is possibly equally shy to notice her. All of the advice she gets manages to backfire, so she engages in a back and forth with the columnist, which allows the reader to see how it’s all playing out.
“Take My Mom–Please!” — Bonnie befriends Tamara Cherp (yes, Cherp) on the first day of school, and gets to meet Tamara’s eccentric mother who Bonnie thinks is just fantastically amazing and wants her own mother to emulate.
“I Hate You, Wallace B. Pokras” – Barbara sees her boyfriend at the movies with another girl. Everything she thinks (mostly about how she hates him, and he is a lying liar who lies) is outlined in this story.
“The Girl Who Had Everything” – Diane is the girl who has everything. Her best friend is the narrator who tells us what happens when Diane’s boyfriend maybe kind of loses interest in her. Such an outside looking in story.
“Loathe at First Sight” – Alan tries to hit on Anne with disastrous results.
“Your Three Minutes Are Up” – In the world before call waiting, Libby constantly hogs the phone, so much so that her parents put egg timers by all the phones and limit her calls to three minutes each. Oh, and she can only have three calls per day. AND her friends’ parents follow suit.
“Double Date” – Two best friends get separated when one moves to a different school district, but they both manage to fall for a boy whose name is a variation on Richard.
The last story is the weakest, but the focus on friendship makes me happy. I love, love the Tommy Toledo one because it’s so over the top and ridiculous. I just…homegirl does some dedicated stalking. I can’t even imagine her in the internet age. She’d be that girl posting pictures on twitter after finding out where dude lives and then wondering why everybody calls her crazy/inappropriate. I love the message in If This Is Love with its emphasis on doing things for yourself and not so people will like you. And my absolute favorite is “The Girl Who Had Everything.” Probably because it speaks to my inner sidekick.
The point is that I loved rereading this whole collection. IT SPEAKS TO ME. Ellen Conford, you are great.
Now, if only I could get my hands on Seven Days to a Brand New Me…
YA of the ’80s and ’90s: 4; YA Reading Challenge: 22/20; Off the Shelf: 7/5