manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (website | twitter)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: conflicted emotions, male POV, past and present, contemporary fiction
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley (Thank you!)
Other Books Read By Leveen: Zero
Summary: Tyler’s first short story is soon to be published in a literary journal where everyone will find out the truth — that while he’s been dating Sydney, he’s secretly been in love with Becky.
There are a handful of you that will be turned off by the premise of Tom Leveen’s new book, Manicpixiedreamgirl.
You won’t want to read about a boy, Tyler, who is dating one girl, Sydney, but is in love with another, Becky.
You’ll be worried that he’s going to cheat. And cheating isn’t fun to read about.
But you’ll be unnecessarily worried.
Because even though Tyler should let go of Sydney, there’s something so incredibly gripping and magnetic about Leveen’s writing. He lures you into the story with breadcrumbs of information that make your mouth salivate in anticipation for the next bite.
Manicpixiedreamgirl alternates between the past (beginning the first day of freshman year when Tyler first lays eyes on Becky) and the present (when his first short story is being published in a literary journal and he’s in a relationship with Sydney). Tyler’s immediately drawn to Becky; she sits alone at lunch, sorts her animal crackers into interesting piles, and happens to be reading one of his favorite Stephen King books. She’s an enigma. He loves watching her from afar (because he’s too timid to actually talk to her in person).
One day in English class when Sydney mentions that she knows Becky, Tyler bombards her with questions to gather any snippet of information he can. And somehow, weeks later, Tyler finds himself on a non-date with Sydney … which leads to them becoming a couple without an official proclamation ever being made. It just sort of happens.
Tyler’s in an odd position because he never fully intended to date Sydney. He still daydreams about Becky and wants to find ways to spend time with her. Out of respect for Sydney, he’s very cautious when he does interact with Becky and is ever the gentleman.
But in the privacy of his own home, he writes stories. Countless stories are written and revised.
And it just so happens that one of those is being published in the literary journal. Where surely everyone (especially Sydney) will be able to put together that Tyler is in love with Becky.
The only other book I’ve read of Tom Leveen’s is Zero, which I loved so much because of how well Leveen dove into his character’s minds. Tyler’s character was no different. Every struggle he felt seemed so authentic and real. How could he have allowed himself to fall into a relationship with Sydney? How can he love Becky and not hurt Sydney? His best friends were the perfect, humorous balance to the anxiety-ridden Tyler that seemed to always be toeing the line between what he wanted and what he was forced into.
Often I’m frustrated with characters that are pushovers and don’t stand up for themselves. I don’t know how he did it, but Leveen never angered me with Tyler’s passiveness. Tyler was still kind and thoughtful, intelligent, and aware of how all his decisions would affect those around him. I suppose the correct term would be mature. He didn’t make quick, erratic decisions, but instead let things play out naturally.
Leveen’s writing is stimulating and ever so engaging. Just as Tyler was drawn to Becky, so will you be seduced by Manicpixiedreamgirl, desperately hoping to untangle the messy web Tyler finds himself caught in.