The Kids at Latimar High by Deborah Copeland 2006 ARC
IQ " I mean you can't fix something that you didn't do. Stuff just happens and people expect you to be a certain way and act a certain way." Kevin pg. 39
Going to Lewis Latimar High used to be easy for Lauren O'Neil. As long as she stayed on the honor roll, got the juiciest stories for the school paper, and made sure her silky thick flip reigned amongst all the other girls at Latimar High, things stayed as smooth as a White Castle's vanilla shake until the day she got the assignment of a lifetime: to interview Kevin Johnson, Latimar's star quarterback, the finest boy in the Bronx, who was up for grabs by every girl in the school, including her best friend Rosalyn, who makes a move for Kevin. And in doing so, violates just about all of Lauren and her Girlfriends' do's and don't codes to live by. In fact, as the competition heats up, Lauren breaks a few friendship codes herself. With a sudden bitter twist, life at Latimar High isn't as easy as it used to be.
That quote is not too incredible, but I needed something. First of all, just as an FYI it's self-published and that's not an issue to me (I really need to do a post about why I read self-published books summed up in 7 words: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott and I want to support up and coming authors of color). Like I said, I have no problem with self-published books as long as they are at their absolute best. I read somewhere (and I completely agree) don't publish a book until you're absolutely sure it's your best manuscript. And have other people read it! I found so many misspelled words, typos and grammatical errors in the Kids at Latimar High that annoyed me to no end (it's ok if it's an ARC, but this book is not). I don't want to be mean (feel free to let me know if you thought I was too harsh in this review), just offer constructive criticism.
The story has potential. The potential of the story lies in developing the minor characters a little more, telling their stories and offering more information about the main characters as well. How they turned out the way they did. Lauren's parents are fighting all the time, which worries Lauren. There's a loooong buildup to this crucial scene involving the subject of the arguments and then nothing. We read a second-hand account of what someone thought. I wanted to know how Lauren felt since it concerned her the most, I don't care how people not related to Lauren feel! The book promises a "bitter twist" (back cover), well there was no bitter twist. It was cliched and not particularly interesting. I saw the ending coming (except for one small part concerning a minor character, that was interesting but not developed). And Rosalyn's Uncle Nate sounds like a fascinating character (like the Godfather) but we learn so little about him.
I was also tired of the same old cliches and expressed used to describe characters in the novel. We constantly had to read about people raving over Lauren's "good hair" and it just got tiresome after awhile. It's described constantly as "silky", "thick", "long", etc. And it wasn't just Lauren. The main characters are constantly being described in appearance and always being mentioned but the secondary characters were hardly described or mentioned unless they appeared on the scene (there's one character, Melly Marv, who always pops up and I don't remember what he looks like or how he got his nickname "smelly" or why he's even important to the story). The characters are all flat, walking talking cliches and the pop culture references have this novel dated already. The characters were just annoying. Especially Rosalyn and Lauren. Lauren's girlfriend codes were a bit odd too. She makes rules to govern her and Rosalyn's friendship, to keep each other in check. They are cute and well meaning but she constantly refers to them and shouts out "girlfriend rule number two" or something which is irritating. Just say the rule out loud, that reminds people better. Especially, because I forgot the girlfriend codes right away. I love when an author writes flawed characters, they're human and lovable. Not so here. Caught up in materialism and it's all about them, they're flawed and not at all lovable. Did they have sad stories? Yes. But the stories would have impacted me more deeply had they been elaborated upon. Ugh and please authors don't use lines like these "her weathered Cherokee Indian features" pg. 92. In this case the character is a cafeteria worker whose ethnicity is not too important so why bother mentioning it? It didn't add to the story, I suppose it added diversity since she was the only Native American in the story but since the book is not about her and she's mentioned once, it really doesn't matter. Furthermore, what does a Cherokee Indian look like? Personally, I've never even met a Native American (how sad is that?) from any tribe so I wouldn't know the difference between a Cherokee and a Sioux. I don't mean that to be offensive, I simply mean that if you are going to identify the tribe of a Native American (which you should do, based on blogs/comments I've read saying that tribal origin is the preferred means of identification) then talk in more detail about them. Don't just mention it in passing and not elaborate because then it means nothing. Take this as an opportunity to educate readers like me.
In short, I didn't enjoy reading The Kids At Latimar High. It didn't waste much of my time because it's a quick read. I just didn't care how it ended or what happens to the characters and I won't be looking for the sequel. I believe this story could be good if it's edited again and developed more. It needs something to make it stand out because right now it's a generic story that involves no twists or particularly pleasing events (i.e. if a book is cliched but absolutely hilarious that makes it better and enjoyable).
Disclosure: Won in a giveaway from the author's website. Thank you Deborah!
ETA: I've been told that I received an ARC so that excuses some of the grammatical and spelling errors so I'm changing my rating to 2/5. However, my issues with the book remain the same. Also, I've been asked to pull this review down which I will not do as I have freedom of speech.