Published in 2017 by Balzer + Bray | Two feathers
*Warning: This turned into a spoiler-filled rant review*
This is about two best friends, Dana and Olivia. Olivia has always been the center of attention, training her whole life to become a singer, with Dana cheering her on from the sidelines. One day Dana tags along as moral support to an audition to be in a girl band, but she ends up auditioning as well, and then both of them are chosen to be in the girl band.
I picked this up because I was in the mood for a quick, fun contemporary that didn’t require too much thinking, and that is exactly what I got! The chapter length especially was great (you guys know how much I like short chapters ^.^’). Also, I liked how much the book focused on friendship, even though that friendship wasn’t the best. For those reasons, I am very glad that I picked this book up.
However, I do have some issues with it, the main one being the friendship between Dana and Olivia. It came across as toxic and unhealthy; everything revolves around Olivia, and Dana is basically only around to be the sidekick that Olivia needs. It felt like the exact type of friendship that maybe would have worked when they were kids, but to me it was obvious from the get-go that they had probably outgrown each other and all that was needed was a new environment for the friendship to finally crack. What also plays into this is the fact that both of them began acting like shit towards each other the moment they step into the apartment with the rest of the group. That’s why I thought that the ending was realistic to some extent, even though it was sad. They just weren’t good for each other anymore.
The other major thing that bothered me was Olivia’s eating disorder; or rather, that literally everyone knows about it and not one single person does anything about it. Dana’s all like, “I won’t tell your mum as long as I can see you eating”. Then she catches Olivia throwing up, and still doesn’t do anything about it. I mean, they’re supposed to be best friends, and the best thing Dana could have done was to tell someone and help Olivia get professional help, even if that meant Olivia getting mad. It would have helped in the long run. Let’s not demonize getting help, people.
Related to that, why didn’t Dana do anything/care about her mother? I understand that it is difficult to deal with a parent who’s an alcoholic, but Dana didn’t even seem to worry that much about her mum. She barely thought about her when she was in Orlando, and then she just leaves for community college without a second thought. How can her mother be so insignificant??
Also, Dana is supposed to be this tough girl who “gives off a vibe” (p. 166, my cursive) and who isn’t easily intimidated. At least that’s what we’re told. What actually happens is that Dana comes across as insecure; she doesn’t have the best self esteem, and she repeatedly stutters, blushes and doesn’t know what to say. We’re told one thing, and then we’re shown the complete opposite. She gave off the opposite of that “bad-girl vibe” I think she was supposed to give off, which annoyed me to no end.
What also annoyed me is the fact that Dana made the group when she was so crap at singing, really works for her place there, and then just abandons the whole idea to go to community college instead. She discovers a passion for performing, and then vaguely decides to become a doctor which was her actual childhood dream all along. That struck me as weird.
Lastly, the 90s setting was cool, but there weren’t that many actual markers that showed that the book was set during the 90s. Sure, they were going to be in a girl band, they call each other on stationary phones and the general clothing style was 90s-inspired, but I would have loved if the author had gone for it even more. As it was, it might as well have been set in current-day Orlando and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
I’m done now. I thought I liked this book better than I did, but then I began writing this review and realised how many things I didn’t get along with. Kudos to you if you managed to get the whole way down here ^.^ .