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Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)

Review

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)

If growing up means learning from your mistakes, then April is doing a lot of growing up all at once. Because she's sure making a lot of mistakes! It all starts when she learns that her dad and stepmom are relocating from Westport, Connecticut, to Cleveland, Ohio. Her mom, stepdad and younger brother have already moved all the way to Paris. Why would April want to move halfway across the country, away from all her friends?

She hatches a plan to spend the rest of junior year and senior year living with her friend Vi and Vi's single mom, Suzanne. There's only one catch --- Suzanne will be touring the country with a traveling musical production the whole time. Living on their own, independent and free, seems like every teenager's dream, right? So April and Vi tell just one little (but hugely complicated) lie to April's dad. They're confident, competent young women, after all. What can go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out. Everything from throwing a crazy party to skipping school to harboring a fugitive. Meanwhile, April, who's maybe a little more fragile than she would've let on to anyone up front, is dealing with an emotionally unavailable boyfriend, a confusing crush on a different boy, lingering resentment about the fallout of her parents' divorce, and some serious ambivalence about losing her virginity. Not to mention the growing realization that as much as it might be fun to have a housemate, lack a curfew, have the freedom to throw a party, sleep with a boy, or stay up all night, when push comes to shove, there's really no substitute for family.

April is a lovably flawed character. Alternately (over)confident and self-doubting, her mistakes and foibles ring true, even if the novel's original premise might seem far-fetched. Sarah Mlynowski's storytelling is tight and focused as she skillfully moves back and forth in April's story, explaining how the mistakes of the past might be finding new life in the mistakes of the present. She also effectively captures the interpersonal dynamics of April's group of friends, realistically rendering their dialogue even as she explores deeper issues of morality, responsibility, self-respect and maturity.

Of course, this makes TEN THINGS WE DID sound like a really heavy book. Although it deals with some pretty serious topics, April's adventures in independence are also frequently very funny indeed --- and the love story will appeal to romantic readers as well. In the end, perhaps April does a few (okay, more than a few) things she shouldn't have. But she also winds up learning just as many lessons and creating just as many memories.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 7, 2011

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
by Sarah Mlynowski

  • Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0062683039
  • ISBN-13: 9780062683038