First things first… this is an awesome young adult novel, the debut full-length work of Louie Rozett. The Angry Girl doing the confessing is Rose Zarelli, a nearly 15 year old high school freshman. Why is Rose so angry? Her father died doing civilian work in Iraq, and since then nothing has been the same. Her mother, an adolescent psychologist, only talks to Rose in her “therapist” voice, Rose’s brother has gone to college, and to top it off she’s started high school where most of her teachers tiptoe around her.
I wonder once again if this is really the way high school is supposed to be. It seems like everyone around me is having a great time drinking, dating, having sex and almost getting arrested. But somehow I always seem to be on the wrong side of the equation.
This is the truth for Rose’s experience in high school. Her best friend Tracy is obsessed with losing her virginity, but refuses to listen to Rose’s (smart) advice about condoms and readiness. Tracy has also joined the cheerleading team, making the divide between her and Rose even more obvious. Rose loves track and vocabulary words, and couldn’t care less about makeup, iPhones, and cheerleading. She’s trying to understand herself, this new person that she is: a girl who no longer has her dad and who is quickly becoming an outcast at her new school. To make matters more complicated, Rose finds herself drawn to Jamie Forta, a Jordan Catalano clone (right down to his car) and, and despite being several years older than her, it’s clear Jamie likes her too. Sounds great right? Well, Jamie just so happens to be dating Regina, an evil cheerleader, who quickly seeks to make Rose’s life even more miserable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved Rose as a character, as well as her first person perspective. I felt like I was in deep with her emotional struggles to come to terms with her father’s death and the impact on her family, as well as dealing with the comparatively mundane issues of high school and cute boy crushes. Each chapter starts with a vocabulary word and definition that sets the tone for the theme of the chapter, which is a nice literary device. Some of the most lovely touches involve her desire to connect with her father and his memory, while also being totally terrified to do so (such as picking the “just right” picture for a website dedicated to him and going to an opera with her mother). I also enjoyed her budding relationship with Jamie… it was so reminiscent of My So-Called Life and all of Angela’s feelings for Jordan (although I think Jamie might be a little less careless in his holding of Rose’s feelings than Jordan was with Angela’s). I’m very pleased that there will be a follow-up sometime next year!!!
I think the only part that stood out a bit strangely for me was Rose’s visit to the gynecologist. There was a part about a missing hymen and an implication that girls who have not had sex should have a hymen. I know I am old enough to know this for fact, but I though we’d demystified the hymen? There was also a dropped plot point regarding a pap smear. I liked Rose’s experience and fear of the visit, but it definitely stood out as a bit unnecessary and odd compared to the rest of the story.