Friday, December 31, 2010

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray 2010

Rating: 2.5/5

IQ "What I know is that wrong's a big word. with a lot of meanings." Silver pg. 68

Michelle is a track star and stellar athlete. She has a best friend, Kiki who is a budding filmmaker and loves to film Michelle. What Kiki doesn't know is that Michelle was born Princess P, future queen and heiress to one of the most notorious gangs in California, the Snakes. Unfortunately for Kiki, she uncovers Michelle's past when they are both captured by members of the Snakes to be held as ransom. Michelle wants a normal life, but it's hard to resist the lure of the Snakes and the good memories she has with them. To make matters worse, Michelle was kidnapped by her best friend/ex boyfriend, Silver.

I'm torn over how I feel about the language in this book. On the one hand I appreciated all the slang because the entire book isn't in slang, it's understandable and lends an air of authenticity to the book. On the other hand, some of it is so laughably out-there. No offense to anyone who speaks that way but some of the phrases just seemed to be ridiculous (I wish I had examples but I already returned the book). I wish I knew if the language was authentic. I know Chicago slang can be a whole lot different than L.A. slang (or any other slang from Cali) so don't take my word for it. There was also some really random Latin and it just didn't fit with the story. I think the author was trying to show that even though Michelle/Princess P spoke 'ghetto' she was still educated. But I don't think readers would doubt that in the first place, you can be smart and still speak with slang. I also hated how melodramatic the book was. EVERYONE is ALWAYS crying. Ohmygosh. It was sooo frustrating. One minute the author was describing these 'hard gangstas' and the next these 'hard gangstas' are crying about something or other. I seriously couldn't believe that these 'thugs' who have no problem selling drugs and kidnapping would cry so much (especially Silver. Over and over we are told that all of his goodness is dead and yet he cries A LOT). But maybe that's just the cynic in me. To top it all off, the ending is a non-ending. I finished the book wondering what the whole point was since the ending was so open. I'm not sure if there's going to be a sequel, but there needs to be (although I'm not so sure I'd read it...).

I did like Michelle, she's the right mix of toughness and vulnerability. Plus I think her story is one that many can relate to, trying to stay true to your roots while still forming your own path. The story is quite original, I loved the twist on princesses, Michelle would be awesome as any type of royalty (not just as future Queen of the Snakes). I don't usually comment on this but I really liked that Kiki wasn't the 'sassy Black friend.' I know I've read other books where the Black main character isn't sassy but I can't recall many I've read in which the best friend is Black and NOT sassy, so I wanted to point that out here. Kiki is eccentric and realistic. While she seems wimpy to Michelle (not that Michelle ever comes out and says it), she handles the situation of being kidnapped in a reasonable manner. She freaks out at first but she calms down when she recognizes that her situation could be much worst (after all she's with her best friend who is royalty, very quick-witted and friendly with most of the members of the Snakes). Michelle's brother, King Samson (HA! I just got that reference. Wait, I think his name was Samson? Shoot) was annoying though (see spoiler for more details on why). *SPOILER* Highlight to read. His supposed character transformation was ridiculous. I can't believe Michelle actually bought it. I found it especially hard to believe that he could parade around so openly after ESCAPING FROM JAIL. *End Spoiler*

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped
is an unconventional and suspenseful read. It's a page-turner, although I had to stop every so often to roll my eyes and wish all the Snakes would stop crying. It will be an eye-opening read for everyone if you're from south L.A. and know the lingo, there's probably still something about this book that will surprise you. The ending is certainly a surprise, mainly because it's so anti climatic. I really want to know how the vernacular checks out because it's easy to understand but can seem rather ridiculous. I also think the author was trying to hit us over the head with how amazing Michelle was. Beautiful, best runner in the state, a genius and oh yea, gangsta royalty who now has a loving foster parent. Even with all that Michelle is far from perfect and even though I had issues with the plot and dialogue, I wanted to follow Michelle for a little longer and that's why I finished the book.

Disclosure: from the library (finally returned my books, yay! But clearly I should have kept this one for references).

PS Have a STUPENDOUS 2011 everyone!