Who You Wit'? by Paula Chase 2008
IQ "Jacinta toyed with that thought as the clique joked around her, amazed at how the world kept going even when something huge was happening to people." pgs. 38-39
*Mild Spoilers from the third book, That's What's Up*
Summer is almost here but summer brings a sense of doom to some members of the Del Rio Bay (DRB) clique. For Mina it's the last summer before Brian goes to Duke and she wants to spend every minute of every day with him. Lizzie wants to avoid spending every minute with Todd because she's so head-over-heels, she might end up doing something she (thinks) she'll regret. Jacinta can't wait for summer to be over so that maybe she and Raheem can finally have some space since he's going to Georgetown. Kelly is ambivalent about summer, she looks forward to spending time with her DRB clique and maybe there will be a new guy in her life. Or an old one.
I feel bogus for saying so but what dragged this book down for me were some of the characters. That's a good thing though right? Right. Because each of these characters has redeemable qualities, they aren't one dimensional jerks. Lizzie decides to take a one-year abstinence pact but she doesn't bother to run this pact by her boyfriend, Todd. Her story goes downhill from there, she becomes annoying because she recognizes the problem but is too stubborn/proud to fix it. She's judgemental and is the only character who I don't think ever really redeemed herself. This book focuses a little more on boy problems, less on friendship issues but it never becomes completely about the guys, there's a slightly uneven balance but it's understandable. I didn't like how the clique's extracurricular activities got pushed to the side. I did think that the song lyrics were random at times, not always fitting with the content of the chapter. The last few pages were annoyingly dramatic, full of foreboding and foreshadowing which I don't care for, especially not in a contemporary novel. I couldn't remember how old any of the members of the clique are, I think sophomores? Some characters who started to become well-developed were completely ignored in this book, like Jessica and even Jessica's twin, Sara. JZ still hasn't developed as a character and Michael was a complete prop, only appearing when it was convenient (like when Mina needed a prom dress).
I could relate to Mina especially in this book. She's so terrified of Brian leaving her and then forgetting about her, sleeping with other girls that she makes a decision she might not have had made so soon. Every time I read a book in this series I feel like I'm talking to my Black/Latino friends. We laugh all the time it seems like but there's always some kind of drama going on, either between friends or between couples. The Del Rio Bay Clique series captures all the angst and fun of being a minority in the suburbs as well as just teenage life in suburbia in general. At first it was frustrating that Jacinta is still with Raheem but something occurs that (I think) makes it very understandable as to why she can't force herself to cut all ties with him. Kelly makes a good decision but goes about it in a bad way, very authentic teen :)
Who You Wit'? is a quick read that is guaranteed to transport you back to your teen years or to help you through them. The dialogue is spot-on (a few times the author sounds like she might be trying too hard considering these are suburban teens but for the most part it works). It's funny Mina was my least favorite character at first, now my favorite is either her or Jacinta. Once again, I think Mina's parents are too strict but my parents probably would have been even harsher if they found out I had done what she did so I won't talk. Haha. I love these books because they are universal but the main characters are Blacks and Latinos. Their world is completely diverse too, even the random characters that the main characters interact with have some diversity. I also appreciate that besides racial diversity these books feature economic diversity (i.e. a book about middle class ethnic cultures) and teenage diversity. By teenage diversity I mean these kids are active. I always find it hard to relate to books where the main character does little and/or has no school spirit. Mina cheerleads and writes for the school newspaper, JZ, Todd and Brian play basketball (and JZ plays football), Lizzie is active in the Drama club and Kelly tutors. All of those activities ensure that the author is faithful to teen behavior. I also really liked how a certain character described having sex. It was funny and so very teenage, I would have said the some thing! If you're looking for lighter fair with drama, romance, friendship, heart and diversity, give this series a try.
Disclosure: Bought =)
*I have changed my Throwback Thursday posts. Starting now, I'm going to make a throwback anything that comes from the 1st decade of the 21st century. Ideally, I want to keep the reviews to 2007 and older but exceptions may be made :)
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