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Perfectly Dateless: A Universally Misunderstood Novel

Review

Perfectly Dateless: A Universally Misunderstood Novel

Daisy Crispin grows lovelier, more logical and ever more responsible as each day of her senior year passes. She spends her free time after school working and saving for college while maintaining perfect grades. But in looking to the future, Daisy has been thinking about what she might say to any guy she'll meet in college, quickly coming to the conclusion that anyone with half a brain will discover her natural nerdiness. These bleak thoughts lead her to the unhappy conclusion that she's destined for embarrassment her whole life --- that is unless she comes up with evidence to show she's more desirable than she seems.

Daisy decides that she has to go to the prom whether her parents let her or not; she intends to get the prom pictures --- the physical manifestation of her experience --- which will impress upon hapless males a picture of social competence and beauty. While on some level, Daisy also wants to take part in the traditional rite of passage that is the prom, she wonders if it’s necessary that she enjoy herself. No. The important thing is that she carefully plans the ideal photographic moment to show that she indeed has been coveted before by a real male. 

Daisy's amusing contemplations and precise battle plan are laid out meticulously in her prom diary, full of deliberations a good 200 days before the event. These entries make up a good portion of the book and reveal much about her tendency to plan life to excess. Daisy has five potentials in her Christian school who she's going to try out her feminine charms on, some of them guys to whom she rarely talks. One is an athlete she tutors in her free time, others are choices who will look great in the picture, and the last is an old friend since kindergarten --- her first kiss, in fact. They were five at the time, but it counts. She admits only to herself that she still has a major crush on him, but whether or not that's mutual is an ongoing mystery. In any case, he's at the bottom of the list as others are more photogenic. Daisy is expectedly nervous about the effectiveness of her planned flirtations as she has never tried any of these moves before. But her biggest obstacle will be convincing her parents to let her go.

On a scale of strictness (0 to 10), Daisy's parents are at least a 15. They make parents of the 1950s seem like a laid-back group. Her best friend Claire likes the Crispins but thinks they're running a prison rather than a teenage girl's home. They've outlawed dating for Daisy through high school, claiming that should be reserved for adult courtships (preferably limited to dates with pastors). Thus high school dating would be entirely unwarranted and inappropriate. Though Daisy has never been asked to a dance before, she has effectively been excluded by her parents preemptively. In terms of dress, they're strict enough to be called completely inflexible about fashion, their philosophies involving blacklisting an entire range of stores meant for teenagers. But because Daisy's family is poor, shopping is out of the question anyway; her mother makes nearly all of her clothes, and they're similar to what a hostess at Denny's might wear. Daisy is not allowed a cell phone either and cannot accept calls by any "gentleman caller." Outside of school, her exposure to real-live breathing males is exactly zero (and not looking up).

In PERFECTLY DATELESS, Daisy's get-a-date plans are laid out drolly and with almost military precision, alternating with her thoughts on life, work, guys, friends and parents. Her journal entries are exceptionally funny and will make readers smile at the often irrational thought processes of the average adolescent girl. The writing is fluid and immerses the reader completely within Daisy's mind. Her reflections are optimistically naive, and she's charming and likable from beginning to end. It becomes perfectly natural to envision the beautiful, young hormonal girl behind this, who is responsible and persistently looking to her future. Both young adult and older readers will quickly become attached to her.

There are several good insights and life lessons on topics that present major concerns for parents and teenagers, the principal messages being the need to find a balance in life and looking forward to what is most important. Philosophies here have a definite emphasis based in the Christian faith. The book is impressive in its correlations between the seemingly polar views of many teens and their parents, and also in presenting an illuminating window into the mind of a teenage girl's struggles with her image.

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Reviewed by Melanie Smith on October 18, 2011

Perfectly Dateless: A Universally Misunderstood Novel
by Kristin Billerbeck

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2010
  • Genres: Christian, Fiction
  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Revell
  • ISBN-10: 0800734394
  • ISBN-13: 9780800734398