**It is 1/11/2011, and I’m writing my 101st post. Just an interesting factoid, before I proceed to the actual blog post, which is a book review.**
I don’t review a book unless I’ve personally read it. I read all sorts of books, but mostly I read fantasy/sci fi or adventure stories.
So when I was given the chance to review a book that was no way near fantasy or sci fi, I immediately went out and bought a copy. (Okay, so maybe I went online and ordered it from Amazon, but you get the idea).
When I’m given the opportunity to read any book (unless it’s some kind of Math book), especially when it’s fiction—I jump at it. Fiction is fiction and a good story will hold my interest no matter what genre it is.
And that’s exactly what happened when I read Allison Burnett’s “Undiscovered Gyrl”.
But before I get into an actual book review, let me tell you what that story is about first.
Here’s the book trailer for “Undiscovered Gyrl”
And this book summary is from the publisher:
Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.
Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie’s fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.
Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of identity, voyeurism, and deceit.
The publisher’s blurb doesn’t sum up the entirety of the story. And though this movie trailer gives us a hint of what the story is about, it still doesn’t quite capture the story’s essence.
In order to understand what “Undiscovered Gyrl” is about, you have to actually sit down and read it. But what kind of book reviewer would I be, if I didn’t at least try to give you an inside look at the story?
The book is an easy read. It is in blog format, which means that dates, and even spelling errors made by Katie while she was blogging drunk, are all accounted for. It sets a more realistic atmosphere for the story, and immediately pulled me into the story. I felt like I was one of Katie’s many blog readers.
What is really amazing is that I felt like I was really reading something an eighteen year-old girl would write. This is an astonishing feat, considering that the person who wrote this book is a middle-aged man. Allison Burnett has channeled Katie Kampenfelt so accurately – from her language, to her thoughts, actions, words, and feelings.
Her character voice obliterates any other thought you might have as a reader. You are drawn into her world, into her life instantly. You find yourself loving her, hating her, worrying for her, wishing you could help her. I had to look at the book cover every now and then to remind myself that I was reading a book and not a blog. I would find myself looking for the keyboard so I could send her a message.
The thing is, Katie’s life is a complete wreck. She constantly gets herself into situations I couldn’t even imagine anyone getting themselves into. Katie would write about her life using the kind of language any teenager would use. Words like LOL, Grrr and Ha! make their way onto the page, but these do not distract you from the images burned into your mind as Katie describes encounters with her alcoholic father, oblivious mother, needy boyfriend, and the older men whom she just can’t seem to stay away from.
Reading “Undiscovered Gyrl” was like watching one of those reality shows. You know, the ones that make you say “This show is ridiculous. These are crazy people! Complete trainwrecks! Why am I sitting here watching their silly little lives unravel? I could be doing so much more with this time.” Yes, those kinds of reality shows. The ones you can’t take your eyes off, the ones that keep you glued to the TV because the characters are so outrageous, you just have to know what kind of trouble they get themselves into next.
That was what I felt while reading “Undiscovered Gyrl”. Only it was way better than that. I was reading a book, after all, and not watching some silly TV show.
Though she has changed all the names in her blog, to avoid the possibility of discovery, you get the sense that she is painfully honest about everything else. Her raw, uncensored thoughts can unnerve you or even outrage you. But mostly her words make you think, and they make you feel.
Katie’s exploits are a commentary on the times we now live in. She talks about people who exist in real life – Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are often mentioned, but mostly she talks about events that happen everyday, to people we may or may not meet.Her shocking experiences may remind me that I am reading fiction, and yet, at the back of my mind, I knew that there was a big possibility that someone out there was living Katie’s life—only she wasn’t blogging about it.
I am almost certain, that some ( if not most) teenage girls would be able to relate to Katie in some way. It is for this reason that I recommend this book to teenagers and parents alike. Katie’s life is one big, scandalous mess, but it gives us a glimpse into the soul of a young, deeply troubled woman, who is lost, lonely and utterly alone in her struggles to find her place in the scheme of things.
A book always gives me something that no TV show can give me. It allows me a glimpse into the character’s heart and mind. I get to see through the character’s eyes. I get to hear her thoughts, and feel her emotions as her life unfolds before her.
This is the achievement of literature—especially great literature. I get to learn about a life, so completely different from mine. I get to live that life without consequences. Most of all, I get to understand the person who is living that life.
Why is this important? Because even if the character I’m reading about is fictional, I know that somewhere, someone real is living the same kind of life.
And if I end up meeting that person one day—a real life Katie- I will somehow know the troubles she has lived through. I will understand her. And with understanding, comes tolerance, perhaps even compassion. At any rate, I will be one less person in the world who will judge her.
**Stay tuned this week for an interview with the amazing Allison Burnett.
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