Can You Say Catastrophe?

Can You Say Catastrophe? Bk. 1. 151p. (The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair Series). Darby Creek. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467709255; ebk. $13.95. ISBN 9781467716208. LC 2012048867.
Gr 5–8—Life is hard when you're 13, and no one knows this better than April Sinclair. Humiliated by her younger sisters in front of a hot new guy, unclear about the status of her friendship with best buds Billy and Brynn, and devastated that she has to take a road trip with her family in lieu of attending summer camp, she feels like things couldn't get much worse. Her story is told in the same tradition as Friedman's popular "Mallory" series (Carolrhoda) and Anne Mazer's "Amazing Days of Abby Hayes" books (Scholastic). The author succeeds in creating a believable portrayal of an overly dramatic young teen with the expected afflictions and embarrassments that accompany this difficult age, such as first boyfriends and younger sisters. However, the narration sometimes comes off as tedious. And, while middle graders will certainly identify with April, most of the characters in her life are one-dimensional. Billy and Brynn are never fleshed out and readers are left wishing they knew more about their personalities and lives. Friedman's casual, light prose and journaling narrative style will appeal to some readers, but the protagonist's dramatic flair might irritate others.—Anne Barreca, New York Public Library
Thirteen-year-old April is looking forward to summer camp with her two best friends, until her parents abruptly decide to take the whole family on an RV trip to help April "bond" with her annoying and mischievous younger sisters. While readers may enjoy the funny ups and downs of April's drama-filled life, the book's secondary characters are predictable and two-dimensional.

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