Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Page Count: 310.
Genre: Contemporary young adult.
Goodreads & Amazon

When Mallory is cleaning out her grandmother's attic in the process of helping her move, she comes across a treasure trove of all things vintage. Cute sundresses, old yearbooks, and notebooks and notebooks full of lists. One list in particular jumps out at Mallory, "Junior Year: Back-to-School Resolutions." The list stands as proof that 1962 was a much simpler year to be a junior in high school. It includes five things:
1. Run for pep squad secretary.
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree.
3. Sew a dress for homecoming.
4. Find a steady.
5. Do something dangerous.
The List also could not come at a better time. Mallory is also at the start of her junior year, and she just found out that the boy she thought was her steady was cheating on her with an internet wife named BubbleYum in an alternate-life game and she has decided to give up technology. With the help of The List, she hopes to capture the essence of a simpler time where boyfriends didn't cheat on their girlfriends with online wives named after gum. But Mallory's quest for all things vintage unearths some family secrets, and brings a cute boy (who is also her ex-boyfriend's cousin) out of the woodwork to be pep squad president, she begins to wonder if going vintage is enough to ease complications of the modern world.

"Adolescence is the same tragedy being performed again and again. The only things that change are the stage props."

As a lover of all things vintage, I was really excited to read Going Vintage. I often wish that things were simpler like they appeared to be in the 50's and 60's, and it would be awesome if people were a little less plugged into their electronics and a little more plugged into each other (that sounds more saucy than I wanted it to, but I'm going to roll with it anyway). That being said, Going Vintage was a little disappointing for me, but that's not to say I didn't like it! The List is Mallory's leaping point into singledom and grabbing her junior year by the horns. She gets rid of some seriously modern day essentials: phone, laptop, and even some of her baseball bobble-head collection. I was excited to see how Mallory would approach the list decades after it was written, but beyond the banning of modern technology and embracing vintage clothing, Mallory didn't jump head first into the list and practically pawned the list items off on other people and relied heavily on her sister and grandmother despite her attempts to find herself and be independent of her ex-boyfriend. After such a fixation on The List, it didn't get completed in a way that I had hoped and expected of someone who was attempting to try something new and different.

But I can't settle on a clear Rumination today. I have to comb through all the doubt and whining, the Why would Jeremy do that? and Will I ever find love again? to The List and what it means. I'm two beignets in when I finally settle my mind on what I really want from The List: understanding. I don't know if I'll figure out what happened with Jeremy, or who I really am, or who my grandma was. But if only one of these questions is answered, it will be a win. 

Even though Mallory's attempt at fully submerging herself in The List and her 1960's obsession, I was in love with her voice and the humor she brought to the book. I found myself laughing out loud at several points throughout the story with her sarcastic quips. Her timing was also great. The sarcasm wasn't laid on too thickly, and she was funny in a way that didn't make me not take her seriously when she was actually feeling emotional and not-so-quippy. 

It was easy for Grandma to live like this because the technology wasn't there to miss. But there's all this networking and connecting floating around me, and I'm not a part of it. No one but Ginnie knows Jeremy sent those flowers or Oliver called my house. Normally I would spend hours dissecting those advancements with my friends. Maybe the communication isn't all real, maybe those online personas are facades, but even if it's 30 percent truth, that's still more than the big fat Zero I was getting now. What was I supposed to do, bike over to my friend's house? Paige lives two miles away. No wonder all those small-town teens used to spend the weekends driving up and down Main Street--it was the only way they could find their friends. 

The characters that Mallory surrounds herself with--some by choice, others by nature--were also very rich and I so enjoyed reading them. Am I allowed to say that I had a total dad-crush on her dad? Greying hair? Glasses? Half-sleeve of tattoos? Antiques for a living? Count me in! Even though her dad sounded crush worthy, he didn't make half as much of an impact as Mallory's mother. I loved her mom. She was that mom. The hot mom who dresses like she knows she's hot but doesn't acknowledge it. She's also the mom that totally gets in everyone's business. It was hilarious for Mallory to notice every time that her mother looked at her with anticipating doe-eyes, waiting to feast on the gossip in her daughters lives. Her mom also harbors a secret that had a hilarious reveal. Then of course, there is the sassy grandmother who was so fabulous I couldn't stand it. She was just as quippy and sassy as Mallory, so it was obviously easy to see where she got it from. I also appreciated Oliver Kimball and his effortless cool and amazing phone etiquette, and Ginnie, Mallory's sister, for her dedication to The List in solidarity with her sister. 

Mallory did not dedicate herself as much to The List as much as I had hoped she would, but her strong voice and eccentric family made Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt a light and enjoyable read. 

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