Awkward by Marni Bates
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Youtube, best friendships, divorce, bullying
Format read: Paperback borrowed from library.
Summary: Mackenzie has accepted being invisible. She has two best friends, she’s super smart, and she has a lucrative job as a tutor. She’s the last one who would ever imagine receiving designer clothes in the mail, invites to parties, and chats with the Notable crowd. But after a YouTube of her attempting CPR on a Notable hits the web, her awkwardness makes her quite the celebrity and life as she knows it – for better or for worse — will never be the same again.
Fifty pages into this book, I turned to my husband and I said: I’m not going to like this. He gave me his standard reply: you always say that and then you love it. Okay fine. He was sort of right about this one. And it’s not because Awkward is realistic at all. In fact, it’s downright ridiculous and unbelievable. Sure, we’ve heard of certain YouTube sensations gaining exposure and becoming famous (Justin Bieber!) but there are just TOO many coincidences in this particular story for it to seem feasible.
But once you forget all that and concentrate more on the relationships and the voice of the character, Awkward sucks you in. In a huge way. In an “it’s burning a hole in my purse” sort of way. Like Mackenzie, I was never the coolest in school. (Bookworm, wearer of glasses and Disney t-shirts, majorette, website owner?) So I could feel for her: crushing on the popular guy, studying a lot, working after school to make money. She’s a mature girl. She’s had to deal with her dad ditching her family to start another one, her mom working multiple jobs so she takes it upon herself to be independent and responsible for herself. It’s admirable but it also stops her from letting people in.
You can’t blame her for taking advantage of her newfound fame. She’s finally invited to parties of the Notables (the popular crowd), the guy she’s had a crush on forever is speaking to her, and people keep sending her all kinds of free stuff. She’s gets the opportunity to act like a teenager for once, and she flails and gets a bit out of control. Again, a bit unrealistic — the sudden turn of events, a certain “hidden” talent but if you focus on her relationships — the one with her brother, friends who may or may not want to be friends with her because she is “famous”, and Logan, the guy she tutors — there’s a lot here.
Awkward is a cute book, the ultimate fantasy for any kid (or adult) who feels a little bit lost and in the shadows. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to shine if they had it? The lessons that Mackenzie learns in the end are ones that will stay with her, and as a reader, will feel very satisfied with her decisions as she makes her way to her own kind of happy ending.