Looking for something fun, that brings back teenage memories? E. Lockhart understands, and joins fellow YA authors Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle to offer you How to Be Bad. In a word, FABULOUS. But one word is never enough, is it?
Think road trip. Think stealing your mom’s ancient deathtrap of a car. Think best friends and boyfriends and new friends and bad food and tourist traps and bad weather. Then add fights and hugs and understanding and yelling and silence, both awkward and comfortable. Alligators, dead and alive. Dumping your boyfriend because you are lonely and afraid. Picking a fight with your best friend because you can’t face what could be coming your way.
Niceville, Florida, to Miami, with detours along the way. Vicks is the take-no-prisoner, self-assured girl whose boyfriend hasn’t called since he left for college two weeks ago. Jesse is the judgy, tightbottomed Christian who is lashing out and running away, instead of facing a scary future. And Mel is the new girl, desperate for friends and always the odd one out. Together, they embark on a trip to find out why Brady hasn’t called, visit some tourist spots, and get a lot more than they bargained for along the way.
The girls learn that it’s not about the destination, it is how you get there. Yes, possibly one of the oldest cliches out there, but so applicable, and so right.
How to Be Bad is told from the three points of view of the girls, with alternating chapters, each one offering her take on the experiences along the road. It is fun and well written, and all three change over the road trip, believably, given their backgrounds and circumstances. There are a lot of subplots, and the reader has to pay close attention to follow the different mini-stories going on throughout.
It isn’t going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but three really good YA authors collaborated on a really good YA story, and I had a blast losing myself in it. It is an easy read, the characters are distinct, and the story provided a relaxing Saturday afternoon for me.
Any teen can read this. Pretty sure the boys won’t be too interested, but the girls will dive right in. Just don’t tell your daughter about the time(s) you did something similar. She doesn’t need any ideas.
How to Be Bad is published by HarperTeen.