Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Not-So-Still Life by Liz Gallagher

My Not-So-Still Life by Liz Gallagher (NY: Wendy Lamb-Random House, 2011).

Vanessa is an artist who believes her body is her canvas. Her mom won't let her get a tattoo, so she plays with her hair color, makeup, and clothing.  Of course she's labeled a freak at school, but she has her best friends Nick (who's gay) and Holly (a dedicated musician who goes to a different high school).  Above all, Vanessa longs to be grown up and free to be herself, away from the pettiness of high school.  Her new job at the art supply store, some new, older friends, and a crazy new art project should help her break away, but is she really ready?

No, she's not ready.  Not by a long shot.  And by the end of the novel, she's learned that, but not until she's (barely) made it through some cringe-inducing situations.  These occur throughout the novel, but most especially all the times Vanessa tries to act older than she is and inevitably gets caught out.  She also has a tendency to meddle where she shouldn't, like her friend Holly's love life.  Although Vanessa escapes serious harm, she's very lucky because of the risks she takes, especially with an older guy.  Gallagher takes on interesting and realistic scenario--the crazy-haired artsy type girl stuck among normal kids--and tries to show how she can survive and thrive during this trying period.  She does a fine job, but nothing stellar. OK for ages 13 & up.  Sexual situations.

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