Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Lessons I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy by Liz Maccie


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
"Liz Maccie's debut novel is as tough, optimistic, and beautiful as her heroine, Roberta Romano. Roberta's voice is heartfelt and funny. Her story is exceptionally moving and honest. I love this book and the hope it has for young women everywhere." —Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The most important lessons aren't learned in the classroom.
It’s the first day of sophomore year for Roberta Romano, but instead of the comfort of her local high school, she's been thrust into the elitist embrace of the affluent Meadowbrook Academy.
Surrounded by wealth, Roberta battles her own insecurities to prove her worth and maybe land the boy of her dreams. With the help of two unlikely allies—and an inflatable toy raft—Roberta embarks upon a journey of dark secrets and self-discovery to learn the true meaning of friendship and acceptance.

MY TAKE:
This is one of those books that I can objectively say is good, but at the same time, it didn't work for me.

In Lessons I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy, Roberta is sent to Meadowbrook Academy after doing some bad things at her old school, thanks to her only friend there. At first, Roberta hates her school, but as she bonds with two other misfits, she learns what true friendship really means.

The overall feel of the book reminds me of Mean Girls with just a hint of Girl, Interrupted. Everyone here has problems, some with bigger problems than others. It's realistic in the sense that everyone you meet has struggles, even if it's not obvious. Thus, there was sort of a dark cloud hovering over the book in the sense that the subject matter was pretty heavy.

There are plenty of lessons here, mostly about struggles and friendship, some about family and sacrifices, and a little bit about romance too. It's nice to see a YA book that was more about friendship and personal growth than romance.

I liked the secondary characters a lot. Mervin and Annie are both scarred, in their own ways, but it's hard to tell because they've managed to find coping mechanisms that work for them. Well, for the most part, anyway. The teachers at the school are quite interesting as well. They are more complex than the typical teachers you usually encounter in YA books these days.

I think my biggest problem with the book was Roberta herself. I understand that much of her problems and her attitude comes from her low self-esteem and her desperation to be accepted. However, it just rubs me the wrong way, even if I know that it's a perfectly logical reaction on her part. I guess it just comes across as extremely selfish to me. Thankfully, she does achieve some personal growth by the conclusion of the book, so in the end, she was okay by me.

I usually rate books by how much I enjoyed them, but occasionally I make exceptions for books that I think a lot of people might like even if I personally am not a fan. This book is in the latter category.

Thanks to NetGalley and Diversion Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's about friendship, growth, and growing up.
  2. There are funny moments.
  3. The characters are relatively complex. 

THE BAD:

  1. The subjects discussed in the book give it a somber mood throughout. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like books that are about more than just romance.
  2. You've been bullied.
  3. You feel like you're the only one who is suffering or struggling.

RATING:
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