Book Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

13515025Confessions of an Angry Girl
by Louise Rozett
August 28, 2012
Harlequin Teen
272 pages
Source: NetGalley

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has someconfessions to make…1. I’m livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I’m allowed to be irate,don’t you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and “seeing red” means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don’t know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)  (Sorry. That was rude.)   

(Taken from Goodreads.)

Opening Line

Jamie. You gonna eat that? Jame. That bagel. You gonna eat it? ‘Cause I’m really hungry, man. My mom threw me out before I could eat my cereal. And she didn’t give me a dime.”

My Take On It

I think if I could choose a YA book (especially a YA book in the contemporary genre) that I’d like to see young teenage girls (13-14 years old) read it would be Louise Rozett’s Confessions of an Angry Girl. Why? Because I love the issues that it tackles and the positive message it sends. And there are swoony moments, which is something that most teenage girls (and many girls/women in general, me included) like to read about.  In short: Confessions of an Angry Girl (COAAG) is a great example of what YA lit has to offer to teenage readers. Here’s why:

Rose Zarelli, our narrator, is a very typical teenage girl, facing both typical and atypical life situations. First the typical: She’s entering high school, which can be scary;  she’s witnessing her longstanding friendships be tested;  and she’s crushing on an older, unavailable, mysterious and moody guy. Now the atypical: Rose recently lost her dad, a contractor who was killed while working in Iraq. As a result her family has splintered. Her brother, now in college, is choosing to distance himself from the family as a way to deal with the death. Rose’s mom is throwing herself into her work and generally ignoring what her husband’s death has done to her kids and her family. Rose misses her father like crazy but really has no one to talk to about it, which is ironic since her mom is a therapist. So Rose channels all of these thing into anger. It’s not like she is violent angry, she just tends to voice her opinion (hostile or not) when she probably would be better off thinking before speaking. In essence her self-censoring switch has been turned off.

I really, really like Rose. I like that Rozett has made her character younger, she’s just 14, and entering high school. I love that she is encountering things that I think many, many (including myself) girls encounter or encountered at this age. For example her best friend Tracy has seemingly gone off the deep end (at least in Rose’s eyes.) She’s desperate to become a cheerleader and she’s extremely preoccupied with whether or not to sleep with her longtime boyfriend (longtime being a year in this case.) This seems not so far fetched but the problem that arises is that Rose is not of this mindset, she doesn’t want to be a cheerleader (who she acknowledges are kind of skanky at her school) and she’s thinks Tracy’s boyfriend is an ass who’s pressuring her friend into something she isn’t ready for (yes to both counts on that one.) Tracy is changing, and not in a good way, to fit in with a new crowd and this is driving a wedge between her and Rose. Guys, I really love this storyline, because it’s so REAL and true to life. I bet if you polled 9 out of 10 teen girls they would say they’ve experienced the loss of a friendship in this way.  I know I did. Growing apart from friends is one of those painful rites of passage that everyone goes through and I loved reading about how Rose handles it.

Another part of the book that screamed AUTHENTIC to me was the romance angle. I remember going into high school and having upperclassmen boys show interest. It’s thrilling but it’s also scary. At 14 I was just getting used to kissing and these older guys were, for the most part, well beyond that. Rose developed a crush on Jamie Forta, a junior who actually should be a senior, when she used to watch him play on her brother’s hockey team. Imagine the surprise (thrill) she gets when she is assigned to his table during her study hall. She knows that he is out of her league, but she can’t help it. She is crushing something fierce. Jamie Forta is a mysterious figure. We learn little bits of info about him throughout the book, but mostly we hear second hand accounts and what other people think about him. The consensus? He’s trouble.

Here’s who my old-school brain automatically thought of in regards to Jamie (maybe not in looks so much as attitude.)

So now we have the whole bad boy vibe going, which you know is pretty irresistible, especially to a hormone-ridden 14 year old girl. I liked Jamie’s character, because like a true bad boy, he’s only “bad” on the surface. Underneath there is much more going on with him. That being said, he also frustrated the heck out me (and Rose.) Jamie is the KING of mixed signals. But that again felt very authentic and real to me. Does he lead Rose on? Yes. Should she know better? Probably. All these things aside I really connected with both of these characters and enjoyed watching their friendship/relationship evolve.

As far as secondary characters go I liked them, for the most part. Tracy and the other cheerleaders felt kind of stereotypical to me but it didn’t really deter my enjoyment on the whole. On the other hand: Rose’s brother and mom were very interesting, they both felt fleshed out and three dimensional. Again the conflict between Rose and them felt authentic and true to life, so Rozett scores major points there. And there were two secondary characters that really stood out to me in COAAG.  Robert, Rose’s childhood friend who has a raging yet unrequited crush on her, and Angelo, another upperclassman who shares the study hall table with Rose and Jamie. I loved Robert because through him we get a look at what a 14 year old teenage boy encounters when he starts high school. No longer the big dog of middle school or junior high, freshman boys are the low man on the totem pole once high school starts. Robert has liked Rose forever and she clearly does not feel the same way. Unfortunately she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings (too much) so in her own way she gives Robert false hope which he latches on to and adamantly refuses to let go. Robert is a sympathetic character, but at the same time, he makes some bonehead moves that I think are pretty typical of a boy his age. In the end, I liked him a lot, and I loved watching his character grow throughout the book. Plus he’s a drama geek which I think is WAY cool:) I think *hope* Robert will continue to play a role in Rose’s life as this series continues.

The second awesome character: Angelo. LOVE HIM. This is who I think of when it comes to Angelo (Again, attitude not looks.)

Angelo is that guy. You know the one. The one taking shop and other votech courses. The one who is into fixing up cars. The one one who’s crude and lewd and kind of menacing and sort of a delinquent. The one who seems like he’s dumb as a box of rocks, but really isn’t. In many ways he’s a lot like Jamie Forta, who is also into cars and shop, sans a cheerleader girlfriend and ex-jock status. Angelo’s role in COAAG is modest, but I would love to see more of him in future books.

There are some teen issues at hand in Confessions of an Angry Girl, namely peer pressure (sex, drinking, etc.) and bullying. Rose faces extreme bullying because of her friendship with Jamie and because of the actions she takes following a certain event (intentional vagueness on my part so as not to spoil.) I thought Rozett’s assessment and treatment of these thing were spot on and  I appreciated that not everything resolves itself in a nice neat way. Again, it made the story authentic.

I also enjoyed the way Rose takes hold of her grief over the loss of her dad and channels it in a more positive way by book’s end. Because this is the first book of a series there is not total resolution but the reader is left with the feeling that the healing process has begun.

I also have to mention something. There is a scene in this book unlike any I have EVER read in YA (ar adult fiction now that I think of it.) Rose takes a trip to the Health Clinic for her first ever Gynological exam. Now don’t get freaked out on me here, but Rozett goes into detail and what Rose experiences. You guys, if I had tween/ younger teen daughter(s) I would absolutely recommend they read this. I remember my first such visit, and I would have loved to have been able to read this beforehand. Brava, Ms. Rozett for going THERE.

I really enjoyed this book you guys. Really. I love the characters, the story, the writing, the issues and the messages. I am looking forward to getting back to Rose and Jamie’s story in book #2, Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend due out May of 2013.

4.25/5 Stars