Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: Manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen

Title: Manicpixiedreamgirl
Author: Tom Leveen
Publisher: Random House Children's
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: April 23rd, 2013
Pages: 256 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Sometimes the most dramatic scenes in a high school theater club are the ones that happen between the actors and crew off stage. 

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Darcy's dream of being a writer is starting to feel very real now that he's sold his first short story to a literary journal. He should be celebrating its publication with his two best friends who've always had his back, but on this night, a steady stream of texts from his girlfriend Sidney keep intruding. So do the memories of his dream girl, Becky, who's been on his mind a little too much since the first day of high school. Before the night is over, Ty might just find the nerve to stop all the obsessing and finally take action.

It starts with a girl.  She's not just any girl, but the girl of Tyler's dreams.  From the first moment he locks eyes with her, he knows that he's done for.  Though we try to move on, sometimes there's just the smallest bit of hope that keeps us from letting go.  Tom Leveen's Manicpixiedreamgirl shows what it's like to be stuck on the thought of someone you may never be able to have.

The story is set over the span of one night, with various flashbacks to help the reader get a better feel of each character.  Though none of the characters will make you fall head over heels for them, they do exactly what they're meant to.  Tyler is the heartsick teenager who doesn't quite know how to express his feelings without ruining the only thing he's ever truly cared about other than writing.  Becky is clearly broken, but we won't see how much until at least halfway through the story.  Sydney is just the girlfriend, who should matter most to Tyler, but doesn't.  It was hard to feel sorry for any of them, because each of their problems was their own doing...but there was also something so familiar, because in the smallest ways, I felt as though I could relate.

The writing, as I've noticed in the author's second novel, Zero, is incredible.  I felt that Tom was able to make this story everything it was meant to be solely because of the wording and dialogue he chose to use between the characters.  If wondering what would happen between the main character, his current girlfriend, and his love interest wasn't enough to keep me reading until the end, I would have done so because of how perfectly every emotion was described.

Manicpixiedreamgirl is an insightful and painfully realistic story of young, unrequited love.  It never hit me how much I loved this story until the very end, where the main character and the readers realize that there was so much more to Becky than she's willing to show.  We thought we knew her based on Tyler's perception of her, but as it turns out, no one really knew her, maybe not even herself.

Guest Post
Favorite male narrators in YA

Where are all the boys? Offhand, I’d say there’s a dearth of first-person male POV characters in YA. I’m somewhat guilty of it myself. I began a list of some of my favorites, only to discover than most of them were not first-person, but third. Without doing even a bit of research, I feel like it’s safe to say that most first-person YA is female and most third-person is male. I could be totally wrong about that!

But anyway, in considering some favorite male POV YA novels, here’s what I came up with:

Holden Caulfield.

Eh . . . except, that’s kinda trite to say, isn’t it? So let’s keep trying.

Number one: Leo Borlock, from Stargirl.

No question. I love this guy. I get him. I get his story. He’s thoroughly human without being the thorough asshole so many humans are. He makes mistakes. He makes one HUGE mistake, for sure. And without going into great detail about it, he regrets that mistake to the core of his being, even well into adulthood (in my opinion of the book). Stargirl—as evidenced, again in my own opinion, in the sequel—needs a narrator. She needs a second pair of eyes and ears to report on her goings-on, because in the first-person, she becomes too human, and dammit, I don’t want her to be! In fairness, Stargirl makes mistakes too; she succumbs to Leo’s peer pressure to be “normal,” and that destroys her very soul, or nearly so. But Leo’s fascination with and love for Stargirl is totally authentic, as is his desperation to get her—and them—squared away with Everyone Else. To Fit In. Such a perfectly wrought story of peer pressure, first love, and the joy and price of individuality. If I had to pick one book I wish I’d written, it’d be this one.

How about Pony Boy in The Outsiders? I think S.E. Hinton here shows that gender is all but meaningless in good fiction; I often get asked how I write from the POV of a girl. Well, we could sure ask Hinton the same thing; how does she write her boys so well? I don’t know what she thinks, but I’d say it’s because we don’t write genders, we write characters. And clearly, her characters have resonated for decades. Pony Boy is a reliable narrator from the get-go, and doesn’t sugar coat what his life is all about.

My favorite middle-grade series, dating back to fourth grade, is The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald. Told from Fitzgerald’s own fictionalized POV, “J.D.” is perfectly cast as both the victim of Tom D.’s conniving and sidekick to his most fun exploits. He’s like a nine-year-old Watson commenting on the adventures of a twelve-year-old Sherlock. I still read these books every couple years at least.

Finally, also aiming a little shy of YA, I must include Judy Blume’s impeccable Then Again, Maybe I Won’t. Tony—like Leo—is just trying to figure life out. He’s a good kid at heart who makes a few mistakes along the way while he navigates being a new kid, a new young adult, and a new “rich kid.” Blume covers it all with his great adolescent voice that is totally relatable.

Those are my favorites; my books are packed away at the moment so I had to rely on memory. I think that’s a good thing. It means I picked the ones that really left an impact.

Stay gold, Pony Boy. Stay gold.
~ Tom

Tom graciously offered to give away a hardcover copy of Manicpixiedreamgirl!

-Open to US residents only
-Ends one week from today (May 7th)
-Winner must reply within 48 hours


  1. I really want to read this!! Thanks for the giveaway and review :D

  2. It seems to have a Perks of Being a Wallflower feel to it. I adore books like that!

    Great review!

    Rie @ Mission to Read