I received the ARC for Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date is October 13, 2015.
In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, seventeen-year-old geeks Lula and Rory share everything—sci-fi and fantasy fandom, Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes, and that feeling that they don’t quite fit in. Lula knows she and Rory have no secrets from each other; after all, he came out to her years ago, and she’s shared with him her “sacred texts”—the acting books her mother left behind after she walked out of Lula’s life. But then Lula discovers that Rory—her Rory, who maybe she’s secretly had feelings for—has not only tried out for the Hawthorne football team without telling her, but has also been having an affair with his middle-aged divorcee boss. With their friendship disrupted, Lula begins to question her identity and her own sexual orientation, and she runs away in the middle of the night on a journey to find her mother, who she hopes will have all the answers. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose in this fresh LGBT YA novel speaks to anyone who has ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggles to find their place in an isolating world.
I guess I am going to be a black sheep on this one. Almost ever single review gives five stars and I just don't get it. First of all, let's talk about those nicknames "Weird Girl and Whats His Name." The explanation that Rory gives for why they have those nicknames was ridiculous and it is still bugging me. Lula and Rory live in this small town in North Carolina, where apparently they live in the 1900's or something. Rory mentioned that people don't talk to Lula because her MOM lived in California instead of the South. REALLY?? And then he said that kids didn't like him because his mom married a YANKEE (yes, she actually used that word!) and was a divorced single parent. Okay, I grew up in a small town in Georgia and I rolled my eyes so hard at all of this, especially the term yankee. I have heard that term used ONCE in my life and it was ten years ago and the guy who said it was eighty years old. The author's bio says she is a "native" Carolinian, but it doesn't say how long she spent there before moving to New York City. My guess? Not very long. But here is the REALLY annoying part: this part of the plot was NEVER discussed again!! And it is quite evident that the reason behind Lula and Rory's isolation has nothing to do with their ancestry. So why even mention it?? Maybe the author wanted to emphasize the fact that they were from a small, southern town. But it was so annoying.
The book is split into two sections: Rory's POV and Lula's. I wasn't a big fan of the writing style. It was too conversational or something. One example of this is "Not to get too detailed about it, but . . . well, remember how I said that Lula and I told each other almost everything?"And you know how they say writers should show, not tell? This author included way too much showing. The first two chapters of the book included Rory telling me every single thing he thought I should know about their friendship and their family problems and the secrets Rory was keeping. It was way too much information all at once. The fist part of the book was also kind of boring. Maybe it was all the information dumping, but I had to struggle to stay engaged. I just couldn't connect with Rory. Then Lula runs away and I was curious how Rory would handle it. Just when I was getting connected with him because of Lula's disappearance, the book switches to Lula's POV and there is a time jump of four months or so to Lula's return. I kind of felt slighted because I did not get to see those four months through Rory's eyes. Rory changed so much and went through a lot, but we only got to see that through Lula's eyes.
Now let's talk about the friendship. I couldn't really connect with either character, so it was hard for me to root for their friendship. Frankly, I thought both of them acted like jerks. The second half of the book was basically Lula living her life, being sad that Rory was not speaking to her and trying to search for her identity. Rory lied to Lula several times and I can get why she would be hurt by that. At the same time, Lula's reactions were a bit extreme and I could see why Rory kept stuff from her. Right before Lula runs away, they get in a horrible argument and he says some really mean things to her. Lula running away with no word or note to ANYONE was incredibly selfish, in my opinion. But did Rory acknowledge his part in it too? Nope. Actually, I spent most of the book waiting for both Lula and Rory to stop being so incredibly stupid. I wanted to shake both of them.
There were a lot of issues with this book. Yes, I can see why Lula would want to find her mother and why she would have questions about her identity. She was super confused as are most teenagers. The problem was that these issues weren't really explored as deeply as they could have been. The resolution to all of the issues in the book were just wrapped up too neatly and in only a few sentences. Since some of these issues were major themes throughout the entire book, it was hard to wrap my head around a three sentence conclusion.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one.