Art Girls Are Easy by Julie Klausner (website | twitter)
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: young artist, summer camp, crushing on an older guy, friendships
Format read: ARC from NetGalley via the publisher. (Thanks!)
Summer: Indigo is plunging into her last summer at the Silver Springs Academy for Fine and Performing Arts for Girls. She’s a talented, young artist who perfects her craft at the Academy each summer by training with professionals. Her best friend, Lucy, will be a counselor-in-training this year, resulting in less time together and a lot of time for Indy to brood over whether Lucy is secretly dating her long-time crush, Nick (who happens to be a teacher at the Academy).
I’m writing this review after reading two back-to-back books about teenagers with incredible talents. I can’t imagine the pressure of being 15 years old and knowing exactly what I want to do with my life and worrying about how to get there. When I was 15, I was focused on boys and discussing teachers that assigned too much homework.
Indigo’s life is much different. She’s a very well-known teenage artist.
As she enters her last summer as a camper at the Silver Springs Academy, she’s focused on how to connect with Nick even though he’s a teacher, and Lucy, her BFF who is now a counselor. Indy finished the previous summer with an incredible piece that she’s afraid she’ll never be able to top and struggles to come up with something fresh. Especially since she keeps catching Lucy and Nick together and begins to doubt her friendship with Lucy. (Eleanor, Indy’s roommate, offers unsolicited advice and spreads rumors that further fuel the fire.) Her focus completely falters and despite advice from her counselors, she’s unable to create anything. She’s uninspired.
There was so much I wanted to love about Art Girls Are Easy. While I did enjoy Klausner’s writing style and the flow of the story, I didn’t connect with Indy as much as I like to with main characters. She was a roller coaster of emotions that at times led her to make decisions (one very big one in particular) that were hasty. I would have enjoyed her character much more if only she learned and grew from her mistakes.
Indy’s decisions were conditional — as long as everything was going her way, she was fine; but should things go astray, Indy reacted in the most immature and selfish of ways. For instance, when Lucy seems to be betraying her, Indy chooses to inflict bodily harm upon herself. Each choice is made because of something that occurs and what she would gain from the situation. (After she’s hurt herself, she suddenly gets a streak of inspiration and begins creating something like a madwoman. I’m positive this is a message we shouldn’t be sending.) Instead of approaching Lucy directly and asking what’s going on, she makes quick judgments, bad assumptions, and blames Lucy instead of seeking the truth. (I was crazy frustrated that she would be so quick to anger at Lucy, but completely neglect to think Nick did anything wrong. Since when is friendship negated so easily?)
Indy’s consequences for all of her bad actions (for which there are many as she grapples with not making art and being mad at Lucy) didn’t seem appropriate. Some pretty big things were glossed over and should have been dealt with more specifically. I couldn’t help but think When times get hard again, how will Indy react? Will the behavior continue? I never like finishing a book and worrying that a character won’t be okay. (I need closure.) There were mentions of a therapist pre-summer camp, but no discussion of why Indy was seeing one or if she’d continue to do so when she returned home.
In the end there was tons of build up and drama, but a lot fell flat for me. Most things were (too) neatly wrapped up, aside from a few threads I wish had been given a bit more attention. I wish a bit more consideration had been given to the subtle messages being sent through Indy’s story — act out and you can get whatever you want — and that her character matured and didn’t end up with everything she wanted. Life just doesn’t work that way.