“What are these stains? You an intern for Bill Clinton or something?”
Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom is a prom story. I love prom stories! This one follows Justina who wakes up in a ditch by 7-11 (home of the Slurpee! There are no 7-11s around here and it makes me sad) and recounts her prom experience for a patron and employee of said 7-11.
What I Liked
– I love the pacing of the story and the way the plotting is handled. We start at the end with Justina using the stains, bruises, and tattoos (!!!) she received as a road map for detailing her disastrous prom night.
– Another reason I like the framing device of Justina talking to the two women at 7-11 is it allows the insertion of two grown-up voices into a pretty neurotic teenaged angst-fest. I’m not saying the two women are founts of wisdom or anything, but outside perspective is always nice.
– I like that there’s a reason for Justina’s bad decision making–namely, that she has low blood sugar. As someone who tends to get super cranky when I haven’t had enough food AND has a daughter who tends to get hyper emotional when her blood sugar dips into the dangerously low range, I found it plausible. I also like that we’re reminded constantly that Justina hasn’t eaten, so (some of) her idiotic behavior makes sense.
– I think this would make a fun movie. It reminds me of Can’t Hardly Wait.
– Outstanding supporting characters. And when I say that I mostly mean the Mikes and Serenity. LOVE Serenity.
– Someone on Goodreads or Amazon complained about the contradictions in Justina’s character, but I think Mellom handles her characterization well. Justina claims not to care what other people think, but everything she does is to not draw attention to herself because she does care what people think. Also, the other characters–particularly Ian and Hailey–call her out on her false bravado throughout the entire novel.
– The situations Justina gets in are so ridiculous, but so fun. Also, drunk people are idiots. FYI.
– I didn’t think I would, but I bought the love story. I even found myself smiling and giddy about it. This is pretty spectacular considering…
What I Didn’t Like
– …Justina got on my nerves throughout pretty much the whole book. Yes, low blood sugar. Yes, kind of insecure. But she was seriously neurotic like Mia from The Princess Diaries AT HER WORST. Yeah, Justina was that kind of neurotic, and I didn’t have several books of goodwill preceding this one. I mean, this book is it!
– Also, I didn’t feel like I knew Ian that well outside of some kind of romantic ideal. AND considering the fact that he left her alone most of their prom night made me spend most of the book wondering whether or not her describing him as a Professional Boyfriend was completely unwarranted. I didn’t trust Ian is what I’m saying.
But, in spite of both of those points, I really did fall for them as a couple in the end, and I guess that’s all that matters.
– Not enough Hailey! She’s Justina’s best friend, and we don’t meet her until a quarter of the way through the novel and then she disappears when prom starts. I mean, I guess if she were around, Justina wouldn’t do a lot of the dumb stuff she does, but still. What a waste of awesome best friendness. Sigh.
In conclusion: Fun and engaging read with a plot that overcomes its main character, perfect for a study break.