Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: Doormat by Kelly McWilliams

Doormat by Kelly McWilliams
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: May 9, 2006
Source / Format:  Library book!
Page Count: 131.
Goodreads & Amazon

Jaime has resigned herself to forever playing the role of a doormat. It's a good position to be in. She doesn't feel the need to wear her emotions on her sleeve like her high school classmates, and she's always there for her friends when they need her. Besides, she can't outshine her best friend Melissa, who is always in the center of attention and beautiful and striving to be a model. But when Melissa confides to Jaime that she's pregnant, and utters four words that won't get out of Jaime's head, "Can you help me?" Jaime has to figure out how to help her best friend with this, and also step out of her friend's spotlight and shine on her own.

I don't remember my best friend ever being a wimp. Coward. Sucker. But apparently she is, because not only did she fail to find a way to get the pregnancy test, she sent me to do it for her. Remember what I said about cows falling from the sky before I went to Walgreens for Melissa? Yeah, well, what can I say? The Weather Channel just got a lot more interesting. 

Remember that post I made about being in a review slump? That bled into being a reading slump. Over the past week, I've started and stopped reading two or three different books. I'd just pick them up, read four pages, decide I wasn't "into it" and then move onto the next one that couldn't quite grab my attention. Luckily, and this is something I failed to mention in my moving post, I now live three blocks away from my neighborhood's library (!!!) so I was able to trot over there for a new load of books to indulge in. Doormat by Kelly McWilliams seemed short, sweet, and just the perfect thing to get me into reading. Not only did I like the cover design--it obviously looks like a doormat, but when I read the back cover I discovered that the author was only fifteen when she wrote this novella so then I HAD to read it, because of course this could have gone really good, or not so great at all.

It took me all of English (which is disguised as a forty-minute period but really lasts until sometime around November), but I basically concluded that Melissa and I are friends because we've always been friends. Ever since I can remember, she's been that little bit of drama in my plain oatmeal life, someone who shines and really stands out to the world. People notice her, all the time, for he looks, for her attitude, for her general superstar glow. People overlook me, and I don't mind, really, but when I'm with her, it's like I absorb some of that glow right into my skin, and people notice me, too. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book, and I think that anyone who loved Are You There God? It's Me Margaret will find themselves loving this book, too. There were multiple times where I found myself thinking of how purely authentic fourteen-year-old Jaime's voice was, and then reminded myself that the author was an actual teen at the time. It had me thinking that maybe more teens should write more YA. Doormat wasn't just good for being written by a fifteen year old, it was a great read in general. Jaime is a hilariously blunt narrator, and perhaps her quippy perceptions of others stems from her doormat-ish nature of existing but not really being. Though she is faced with the mature task of helping her friend come to grips with and make decisions for the course of her pregnancy, she is funny and still has part of that teenaged brand of apathy. She is also able to weave in secondary story lines in a way that didn't make them seem like they were coming from left field. 

I've always been the type of person who worries excessively. I worry about important things, of course, but I also worry about the little things that most people never waste a moment's thought on. Sometimes I agonize over what it means to be alive, what it's all leading up to. Sometimes I agonize over my future, or what I'll be like in my old age, and sometimes I agonize over sunscreen SPFs. But I've almost (almost, mind you) stopped agonizing all together. 

Jaime is a character that High School Me could really relate to. She is caught in the limbo of her doormat persona--always being there for people, existing without people knowing she really exists, and letting those around her shine more than herself--and taking the reins of her young life to discover what her dreams are and how to shine without the afterglow of her friends. Jaime, not wanting to put her problems and aspirations in front of anyone else's, even lets Melissa start to edge in on the boy she confesses liking, which is something that happened one too many times to me in high school. We are not just lead to read about Melissa's impending new arrival, Jaime also lets us into her home life to meet her savior Aunt Sheila, her equally doormat-ish mother, and her unamused iguana Jake. 

Doormat is a fun and quick read laced with real teen issues and a harshly authentic voice. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like Kelly McWilliam's has written any other novels thus far, because after this novella, I would have loved to read more and see where her writing has taken her. 

Rating: 4 / 5

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