Guest reporter Ella says Sara Manning's latest novel is funny, intelligent and full of relatable characters.
I’m a big fan of Sarra Manning, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of Adorkable, her first young adult book in over two years. A large part of why I love Manning’s books so much is how relatable her characters are, and despite the break she seems to have not lost her touch.
Adorkable follows the story of Jeane Smith and Michael Lee, two very different characters. Jeane is a 17-year-old who has "turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business". Michael, however, is the typical popular all-rounder. Each represents the very thing that the other stands against, yet somehow they begin a relationship. At first it’s purely physical, but as they get to know each other it seems as though they may actually have a connection.
Adorkable is written from both Jeane and Michael’s perspectives through alternating chapters. Usually I'm wary of male/female spilt narratives in books - it's often used as a lazy way to help the audience understand the love interest's motives, but Manning uses this device to subtly explore Michael’s life away from Jeane’s perspective.
Michael's voice rang true for a seventeen-year-old boy. This is something that a lot of authors struggle with, often going to extremes in order to avoid making them sound too girly or too manly. Manning, however, perfectly captures what Michael would be thinking and feeling.
At first it’s hard to warm to Jeane. She’s often quite rude and abrupt. We later learn about why she's so standoffish and her fear of letting people in. While Jeane is flawed, she is also funny, generous and smart. Manning’s real talent is writing lifelike characters that - like people in real life - are not perfect.
An important part of the story is about accepting yourself, not despite but because of your differences, but Manning never tries to make it a "lesson". Jeane and Michael are very different, but neither one is shown as the "right" one. As the novel progresses Jeane and Michael show us how to be yourself and how not to change yourself into something that you’re not for the sake of other people.
Another aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was the feminist ideas that were explored. Jeane and Michael were equals, and that’s something that I really liked in this book. Too often in young adult books girls are represented as the lesser half of a partnership, so it was refreshing to read about Jeane’s character. Jeane is very independent and I think this trait is part of why she and Michael click.
Once again Sarra Manning did not disappoint. She seems to really understand teenagers and this is portrayed very well in her stories. Adorkable was funny, clever and engaging, and I would highly recommend it.
4 out of 5.
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