Publisher: randall & reismann
Release date: June 15, 2011
"The chick friends rules! Freshman year" is the first of a four book series in this edgy coming of edge story. Fifteen-year old Grant Lee is a "cool kid" who is popular with the girls and adheres to a strict code of the "chick friends hierarchy". There are girls a guy thinks about when he's in his bedroom alone and there are girls a guy farts around. Grant is friends with Marta, the latter in the chick friends hierarchy. She is an intriguing but slightly overweight Latina with a story of her own. Grant is faced with an embarrassing dilemma; he has a secret crush on Marta but is ashamed to tell his friends because she's the "fat girl". If his secret gets out it could be social suicide for Grant. So he goes out of his way to conceal his feelings for her by making a series of bad choices and by engaging in risky behavior. When he gets the courage to tell her his true feelings, she mysteriously vanishes.
Before I really jump into my review, I have to say this: There is a lot of talk about sex in this book. It's somewhat graphic. If you don't like reading that type of novel, then this book is definitely not for you. I know that a lot of people don't like there to be any grammatical errors in their novels. I'm not exactly a fan of it, either, but it's usually not enough to make me stop reading. People make mistakes, and I've noticed factual and grammatical errors in plenty of novels. That said, I also wanted to mention that there are some grammatical errors in The Chick Friends Rules! (Freshman Year), mostly in the form of comma splices. As I mentioned, it was't enough to make me stop reading, because I found the story to be enjoyable, but for those of you who do stop reading when you see that kind of thing, I wanted to give you a fair warning.
All the sex talk that was in the book didn't bother me, although I'm not sure how believable it is, either. Grant has sex. A lot. He's only fifteen. It could just be that I was really naive in high school, or it could just be that the culture in my high school was really different than the culture in Grant's high school, but when I was in high school, I wasn't aware of anyone being like Grant. I never heard any rumors about people sleeping around. Then again, I also wasn't part of the popular crowd, and I just didn't really hear too many rumors in general. So I suppose it's completely plausible that experiences like Grant's really do happen. It's just hard for me to believe because of what my high school experience was like.
I was expecting The Chick Friends Rules! (Freshman Year) to be a really fun, beach-read type of novel. In some places, it was. I loved reading about Grant going onto the golf course to stargaze, jumping out of two-story windows with his friend, and going to a party during summer break. I love reading about people's summer break experiences, because they're so different depending on where you live. Despite those scenes and how fun they are, there are some majorly serious undertones to this novel: race, sexual abuse, affairs, and the consequences of sexting are just a few. It was interesting and refreshing to read about these issues from a male character's point of view. I really loved reading a novel with a male narrator, since the majority of the YA novels I read are told from a female's point of view.
Grant's reactions to some of the more serious issues were admirable. There were times when I got really frustrated with him though, like when he wouldn't stand up to someone when he that someone was doing something wrong, just because he didn't want to get on that person's bad side and/or he was worried about his own reputation. I think those moments are so realistic, though, because as a fifteen year old, Grant is still so young and immature in some ways, but he's also learning about life and himself, so in those moments, we also get to see instances of maturity. I think Vici Howard struck the perfect balance in creating those moments.
I also loved Grant's relationship with his family. I loved his loyalty to his mother, and I loved it that he had a mostly good relationship with his stepfather, since he couldn't have that kind of relationship with his father. The sibling rivalry between Grant and Lexie was well-done. There were moments when I wondered why Grant was so mean to his sister, but as the novel progresses, it becomes more and more clear why he treats her the way he does, even if it's not obvious to Grant.
One character I really loved in this novel was Marta. I thought she was fantastic. I loved it that she could act as Grant's confidant, and that she was willing to be upfront and honest with him. I didn't get to see nearly as much of Marta as I would have liked in this novel, so I can't wait for the next book in the series. I'm really hoping that in the next book, we'll really get to delve into Marta's character more and learn more about her.
The Chick Friends Rules! (Freshman Year) was an enjoyable read. I don't know that I'd exactly call it fun, because of the serious issues presented in the novel, but it had its fun moments, and it was definitely a pleasurable read. Grant is a fantastic character and I look forward to seeing how Grant's experiences will shape his sophomore year.