I picked up Of All the Stupid Things, by Alexandra Diaz, on a recommendation from one of the blogs that I follow. I'm always looking for new and interesting GLBT teen fiction, and recently I've been harping on the lack of gay characters in more mainstream books, so it seemed like this might be just the ticket.
The book has three main characters: Pinkie, who lost her mother at a young age and is unable to restrain her own mother-hen instinct; Whitney Blaire, a beautiful and wealthy (but manipulative) girl who is always referred to by her first and last names; and Tara, who uses running to distance herself from her emotions, and the disturbing rumor that her boyfriend might be getting it on with another guy. These three lifelong friends are thrown into chaos by the arrival on the scene of the new girl, Riley. Whitney Blaire is convinced that Riley is out to steal Tara's now-ex-boyfriend, while Tara finds herself fascinated by Riley and her beautiful hair. Pinkie, caught in the middle, also finds herself caught up in a serious flirtation with a student teacher. Can their friendship survive when everyone starts taking sides?
This definitely had a "first novel" feel to it, in that it sometimes felt like Diaz had bitten off more than she could chew in the space allotted. Written in alternating chapters from each of the girls' perspectives, I often found myself wishing for more depth or perhaps fewer plotlines (each girl has several). The book addressed a whirlwind of issues: friendship, sexuality, communication, death, marriage, body image, class, etc, to the point where I wondered what was being left out. The issue of Tara's (ex)boyfriend and his possible dalliance with a male cheerleader was an intriguing catalyst for the action. I did like the fact that instead of being a coming-out book, in which the lesbian romance was the focus of the story, Tara's attraction to Riley was just one of several ongoing plots (albeit one that triggers a series of subplots). I also enjoyed the hints at character development that appeared throughout the course of the book. I'm not sure a whole lot of new ground was broken, but I found it an enjoyable and easy read.
Random Thoughts: I had to get this book through the Virtual Catalog from Watertown because it wasn't available in western or central Massachusetts. I'm not sure if that means it wasn't widely reviewed, not that many copies were printed, it was too recently published, or there is still some reluctance to buy GLBT-oriented books for teens. I am hoping for an innocuous reason, but in any case this would be a decent addition to any YA collection looking to expand in that direction.
ETA: I'm also not sure about the cover, which was nicely designed but seemed pretty heavy-handed, given the careful treatment of subject matter in the book. Also, it was strangely sensationalizing (in a misleading way): "Three Friends, One Forbidden Love Affair" . . . Also, I didn't "get" the title. Nit. Pick.
The author's website.
Dead Mother: Y