In her new Young Adult book, Vibes, published by Houghton Mifflin, Amy Ryan captures the essence and realities of adolescence. The struggles with friends, school, parents and the opposite sex are woven together with humor, a strong plot and believable characters.
The story is told from the point of view of the protagonist, Kristi Carmichael, a teenager who hides behind a tough exterior so she doesn't have to deal with issues, like her parents separation or why she keeps everyone at a distance. Kristi is also psychic with the power to read minds. A sentence from the beginning of the book hooked me and I couldn't let go until I finished the whole book.
"If you're wishing you were psychic too, believe me, you do not want to know what people are thinking. People are mean, nasty, selfish slobs and 99 percent of the time their brain vibes hurt your feelings and you have to go around trying not to remember that Gusty Peterson, the cutest guy in school, looked at you yesterday and thought, sick."
Amy's strong writing voice immerses us into the world of teenagers and makes us forget that it is an adult who wrote it. In this next paragraph, we get Kristi's take on her school, Journey's, in her usual snarky, attitude-filled way.
"I live in a suburb of a suburb. I'm surrounded by the offspring of professional people who attend parent-teacher meetings and volunteer on Election Day. They believe in a liberal education and everybody who's anybody sends their kids to the nontraditional hippie-dippie school that offers children and teens a self directed, cross-disciplinary, nonauthoritarian education in an emotionally safe environment."
The book made me laugh, ponder and really feel for this young woman who acts tough, but beneath her sarcastic comments and unusual clothes, cares about other people and really does want good friends and a good relationship with her parents.
Whether you are an adult or teenager, I highly recommend you read Vibes.