Trade Me by Courtney Milan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The few young adult novels I've picked up left a horrid taste in my mouth, but this one was SPECTACULAR. All right, I've yet to read anything by Courtney Milan that I didn't enjoy, but this one was such a fabulous ride from page one until The End (for the time being; there's more in the series).
The rest is under cut for spoilery stuff.
I loved that the characters came across as super realistic and darn enjoyable. I loved how well fleshed out Tina was: a minority student who have to work thrice as hard to catch up; struggling financially; being embarrassed of her family the only way children of 1st generation Asian immigrants can understand; her internal conversation rang true for her ethnicity and background. Her snark, double thinking (what she want to and what she had to), ingenuity, loyalty, intelligence, make Tina someone you want to root for. I love her character development as reflected in her relationship with Blake and her mother; we should all aspire to grow up emotionally so well.
Blake ... so easy to detest him. The super rich kid who drive the best toys, was the public face of his Dad's tech company since he was a toddler, handsome, brilliant etc etc. He is the first male character I've read with an eating disorder; it was handled so well, without preachiness or any yucky aspects. Stupendously done. His growth was also something that made the book so much fun to read.
The book is redolent with fun, zany characters who make you wince, grin, and just enjoy the heck out of them. I am looking forward to reading more in the subsequent installment of books.
As diversity goes, this book hits it out of the ballpark. Transgender, ethnic minority, homosexuality; you name it, it's being mentioned in a way that doesn't sound preachy or special snowflake-like. Just so cool. When I grow up, I want to write brilliant books like this.
Female protagonist: 5/5 stars
Male protagonist: 5/5 stars
Pacing: 4/5 stars
Storyline: 5/5 stars
Repeat reading factor: 5/5 star
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