Absolutely Maybe

Still house hunting (weirdest thing seen lately is a crazy seventies era bachelor's pad with so much water damage we could see water running down the upstairs window) which is still cutting into my everything else time. But I did get time to read a fun book by Lisa Yee called Absolutely Maybe. In fact a near miracle occurred and I had time to read the entire thing from start to finish in one sitting. It's a charmer, about a high school student who doesn't fit in at home or school and the huge changes she makes.

Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut, (named after makeup and a couple of beauty queens) who goes by Maybe for short, lives in Florida where she's either ignored or criticized by her mother, who runs a charm school but doesn't have much charm left over at the end of the day for her daughter. Mom Chessy treats her favorite students like royalty while acting like Maybe is an embarrassment. Maybe reacts by becoming the opposite of a beauty contestant, becoming her small town's version of a Goth girl, dying her hair with Kool-Aid and wearing a lot of eye makeup and baggy clothes. (BTW – if you haven't seen this site, Goths in hot weather, you might enjoy it. http://www.gothsinhotweather.com/)

Maybe has two friends, Thammasat Tantipinichwong Schneider, who goes by Ted, and an aspiring filmmaker called Hollywood. Hollywood makes Maybe a little nervous as he seems to have a crush on her, feelings she doesn't return. But she's comfortable with Ted, in fact she prefers spending time at his house, where his parents dote on him and generally behave the way she feels parents should.

Back at Maybe's house Chessie is planning to get married for the umpteempth time while also having trouble with the charm school for the first time. As she starts to drink more Maybe feels even more alienated and when her future stepfather assaults her everything comes to an ugly head. Chessie accuses Maybe of instigating the attack, sending Maybe running from the house over to Ted's house for safety. From there they both decide to head to California to look for Maybe's father, someone she knows nothing about. Chessie has always refused to say who the natural father is and Maybe thinks everything will be fine once he knows he has a child.

They catch a ride with Hollywood, who is going to the city of Hollywood for a summer film program, arriving with nowhere to stay and very little money. As Maybe quickly discovers, it's not much of a glamorous life to be homeless and broke, even when you're living in a place that's thought to be quite glamorous. It's even worse when your search for someone who doesn't know you exist isn't going well.

Ms. Yee has written a charming book with quirky and intriguing characters (including a reclusive, pigheaded actress), difficult situations and some nice character growth (something I especially like to see.) I think all of us have wanted to run away at one time or another so doing it vicariously with Maybe, hopefully safe, snug and well-fed in our own homes, is a nice treat. While her problems are very real and frightening she's a strong enough character that we can have faith in her abilities to try and fix them. If she does fall flat on her face she's got her friends to fall back on. I passed this one off to my youngest son as soon as I finished it.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Melancholy who writes in to say, "The Where the Wild Things Are movie was total crap. If my friends hadn't been there to mock it with me I would have died of ridiculousness and boredom. It's the worst thing I've seen all year. Don't torture your kids by making them watch it." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.