________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 6 . . . . October 7, 2011


Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have).

Sarah Mlynowski.
New York, NY: HarperTeen (Distributed in Canada by Harper Collins Canada), 2011.
357 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-0-170124-5.

Subject Headings:
Conduct of life-Fiction.
Interpersonal relations-Fiction.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Michele Collins.

** /4



I bolted awake. A siren.

The police were outside my house. Ready to arrest me for underage partying, excessive flirting, and an overcrowded hot tub.

But wait.

My brain turned on. No, not the cops. Just my phone-my dad's ringtone.

Which was even worse.

I rummaged around the futon. No phone. Instead I felt a guy's leg that did not belong to my boyfriend.

Oh God. Oh God. What did I do?

....Why was I in bed with a guy who was not my boyfriend without any pants?

....I looked around for some pants. The sole item of clothing within grabbing distance was Vi's red dress that I wore last night for the party.

That dress was trouble....

WEEEooooWEEEooooWEEEoooo! Phone was louder....But where? ....Nestled between a saucer of cigarette butts and an empty bottle of schnapps! I dove towards it. "Hello?"

"Happy birthday, Princess," my dad said...."We decided to surprise you on your birthday.....We'll be there in fifteen minutes. Can't wait to see you...."

"You too," I choked out....

Two half-naked boys....One in a tiara.

More half-naked boys in the bedrooms.

Empty liquor bottles and trashed cups.

And Vi's mom nowhere in sight.

I was a dead princess.

Sixteen-year-old April Berman doesn't want to move to Ohio. Her friend Vi doesn't want her to move either. So they come up with a plan to move in together. The plan involves a few white lies in order to cover up one big problem that Vi's mother knows nothing of this plan. Madcap adventures ensue. Parties. Boys. Sex. And a hot tub.

      But, would April's overprotective father really leave her behind so easily? Is he so nave? Ultimately it doesn't matter. The strength of the book is that it comes across like a Hollywood movie - plenty of drama and humour.

      Plus, the characters are easy to relate to. It is fun to see April, who is a "good girl," go a little wild. It is refreshing to hear teenage girls have believable conversations about sex. April is physically ready, and interested in, having sex with her long-time boyfriend Noah. She wonders if sex will bring them closer together. However, when she and Noah start having trouble communicating, she starts to confuse physical intimacy with emotional intimacy. In contrast, Vi wants to test-drive the physical part of sex while avoiding the side of emotional intimacy.

      Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) is both sex-positive and informative without being heavy-handed. For example, Vi teaches April that condoms are not enough and that she needs to protect herself from both an STI and an unplanned pregnancy: "If condoms were the goalie, the pill was a defense line." Although April's first sexual encounter results in Chlamydia, as a result of her unfaithful boyfriend, this is not presented as a punishment. Instead, it is clear that the physical and emotion aspects of sex are indeed "messy" and complicated.

      Overall a fun and fast read, this book is recommended for teens and fans of chick lit.


Michele Collins is a librarian at the Cambridge Public Libraries in Cambridge, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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