“[A Molly Ringwald Ending is] a perfect ending. It’s when somehow, against all odds, people manage to surmount all issues of class, status, and personality to get together at the end of a story.” I thought about that definition, and then realized for the first time: “It’s basically impossible. I’ve never seen that kind of ending happen in real life. I mean not ever.”
When I was invited to participate in the book tour for 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter, I was super excited. Not only is it my first book tour, but I’ve heard great things about the book, and, of course, that meant I had no excuse to put off reading it any longer.
32 Candles follows narrator Davie Jones from a Mississippi adolescent who is obsessed with Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald movies, and the John Hughes oeuvre to a Los Angeles adult who has to confront her past and realize what a happy ending really is.
What I Liked
– Davie. She’s a great character: good willed, strong natured, and incredibly flawed. The pain and rejection she experiences influences so much of who she is, but I love that she’s not a sadsack character. She’s full of life and, more importantly, funny. She’s also a little crazy. But, hey, aren’t we all?
– Nicky. Oh gosh, I just love Nicky. He’s so fully realized, and I just have such a clear picture of him in my mind. I keep trying to figure out what it means that I’m so drawn to these kinds of anal, control freak characters, but I figure it’s because they’re so amazing.
– I love that Carter manages to take a look at Hollywood fantasy (my argument is always that realistic teen fiction always has an element of fantasy) and shows how detrimental clinging to these kinds of false narratives can be while at the same time showing they can be empowering. I mean, yes, maybe you won’t get the guy or the perfect ending, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after what you want.
– I love that it takes Davie thirty-two years to come of age. It makes sense. Her growth is stunted by trauma and her mentality kind of gets stuck at sixteen. (Through Nicky, Carter calls attention to that fact in a great scene.) While I love, love YA fic, most of us don’t really come of age/mature by eighteen, so I dig that Carter recognizes this in her novel. Davie is still emotionally sixteen.
– I really, really enjoyed the way Davie came into her own.
– I found the book delightfully unpredictable. I mean, obvs, she is going to run into the people from her childhood again (why else spend so much time talking about them?), but a few twists kept me guessing. I’m a hard reader to surprise, so that’s always pleasant for me.
– I love, love the cover. So great.
– This book is a ridiculously engaging read. And considering the fact that once I signed on for the book tour, it became required reading, that’s saying a lot. I read it practically in one sitting. (Okay, over the course of a weekend. When I had other things I should have been doing.)
What I Didn’t Like
– I wanted some (most) of the relationships to be developed more. Everyone’s purpose in Davie’s life is clear, and it makes sense that a lot of the relationships are shallow, but there was still a lot of room for development in pretty much every relationship, especially the friendships.
– Some major revelations are glossed over, which makes me wonder why they were included. They don’t really seem to have an effect on Davie, and, if that’s the case, why does the reader need to know?
In conclusion: I found this to be a fun summer read, perfect for the pool or beach.
Quirky Brown: 5/3; POC: 14/15