Boy Proof, Cecil Castellucci, Candlewick Press, 2005, 203 pp
Last month I attended a reading by Jonathan Evison (The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving) at Skylight Books in Hollywood. Introducing Jonathan was Cecil Castellucci. "I know that name," I thought. Sure enough she is one of the more truly hip YA authors writing these days. I had seen her books all the time when I worked at Once Upon A Time Bookstore, but somehow never read any.
In my usual fashion I started with her first novel. Cecil Castellucci, in my opinion, is a direct literary descendant of Francesca Lia Block. For contemporary teens she take the place of Beverly Cleary.
Egg is the all time, essential high school geek heroine. She is brilliantly intelligent, has the highest grades in her school, knows all about science fiction books and movies. Her mom, with whom Egg lives in a teen vs mother detente, strives daily to recover her life as an actress. Egg's dad, divorced from the mom naturally, is a successful special effects dude who travels most of the time.
So yeah, broken home, deeply sad and alienated, dressing and acting as weird as possible, Egg is "boy proof." But to have a novel, that has to change. Enter Max Carter. He shows up first in AP English. He is as smart as Egg, possibly smarter, but he is a chick magnet. You know the rest.
Of course, I loved it. Just the right tone all the way through, especially for teens living in Los Angeles or wishing they did. The happy ending is not what you think it is going to be. It is so much cooler than that.
(Boy Proof is available in paperback on the YA shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore. It is also available as an eBook by order.)