"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly

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I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.

Summary: Middle school girls form a Flirt Club to gain more confidence in talking and flirting with boys. 

When I first noticed the book “Flirt Club,” I wrote: First rule of Flirt Club: Don’t talk about flirt club!”

But in this delightful young adult novel of friendship and angst, the first rule of Flirt Club really is “Don’t talk about flirt club.”

Annie (Bean) and Izzy (Cisco) have been friends forever. But as eighth-graders, their goal this year is not necessarily to get boyfriends, although that is the ultimate goal, but to learn how to flirt and talk to boys.

The entire young adult novel is written in notes or journal entries – a writing gimmick I normally despise – but no other format could so clearly tell the story.

Annie has a crush on Enrique, or at least his gorgeous ear, since that’s the part of his body she can freely gaze at lovingly, since they are lab partners and he frequently checks the microscope in front of her. Annie fully admits she’s a drama geek and is proud of it.

Izzy doesn’t really have a crush, but is secretly convinced she could be one of the popular crowd, since she’s cute and doesn’t have a specialty.

When the girls get chorus parts in the school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat they become friends with Ariane, Myrna and Lisa. Annie then breaks the first (and only) rule of flirt club and invites them to Flirt Club. The new girls bring a host of new techniques and strategies to Flirt Club. The school-wide musical is a great opportunity to practice their flirting techniques

Throwing food (French fries, good; hamburgers, bad) or paper, winking, and asking leading questions are all fun to practice on boys at the mall. Hair twirling or flipping is also advised. Also, laugh and giggle a lot.

And then Izzy’s practice flirting catches the attention of Michael Maddix, aka the Stone Fox.

This brings me to one of only two complaints I had about the book. It’s unclear in exactly what time period the book takes place. The girls reference The Monkees, and Get Smart, hardly normal fare for a modern teen. I would expect Vampire Diaries or American Idol. Nope, not a mention. And so I thought the book took place in the 80s, when I was in middle school. I then got really into the book, picturing myself as Ariane, and wondering which of my then middle school friends would have been other characters. Cyrus Hammond, he was the Stone Fox of my middle school. So I was later confused when the girls mention cell phones for the first time near the end of the book. To have a book entirely of letters and then not include a single text – which you know the girls would send… it makes me think it was edited by two different people, who had read only the first or last part of the book. The disconnect there was disconcerting.

The second complaint is that Annie gets constipated when she gets nervous and then shares her “movements” or lack thereof with Cisco. Only Annie refers to it as “Elvis has not left the building.” I don’t ever remember talking this much about my bowel movements with anyone at any time in my life. And since there are three plays during the school year, Annie talks about this issue far too frequently for me.

Izzy starts dating Michael Maddix and is expected to hang out at his lunch table with the popular kids. Izzy is torn between her loyalty to her single friends and the delight of having a boyfriend who drags her over to sit with him. Annie is hurt at Izzy’s silence, but is understanding and flexible. We should all be as lucky as Izzy is to have a friend like Annie.

The addition of Ariane, Myrna and Lisa to the book broadened the appeal for me and their notes to Izzy were among the funniest parts. Lisa is blunt and uninspired and her notes made me giggle. I found myself laughing aloud at the antics and the true angst the girls encounter when they get (and possibly lose) boyfriends. Their break-up revenge plan is enviable, as is the response.

I’d normally pass along books, but if I store this one for just 8 short years, I’d gladly give this to my daughter to read.

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