Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Publisher:Feiwel and Friends
Publish Date: June 7, 2011
Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN: 978-0312643461
Young Adult, Fiction

My Review:
I read and really enjoyed Don't Stop Now.  It's just one of those books you pick up read, escape for a few hours and when it's done, you realize it's brain candy.  Nothing too harsh to think about (in these days following the Wall Street Journal article) and it's the kind of book that definitely has it's place in the midst of young adult books that deal with harsh subjects.  We need the break every once in awhile to just kick back and not really think when we read a book and Don't Stop Now did that for me. (Just so you know I am not knocking books that deal with teenage realities, I read them as well and think they have an important place among young adult books.)

Now that is not to say there aren't issues in the book, there are and some of them are difficult, but they are on the periphery and the fun of the road trip is in the spotlight..  Lillian (Lil) and Josh are the stars as they go off across the country to find Penny who leaves a cryptic message that just says "I did it.".  Penny has been a sort of friend this year, one on the periphery where it seems she wants to be.  But Lil vaguely remembers her talking about a guy she met that lives in Portland and a plan to fake her kidnapping.  This is all Lil and Josh need to take off across the country on a quest to find Penny and bring her back since it appears that she has faked her own kidnapping.  As they travel they sort through why she left, what she needed to get away from and also Lil deals with her feelings for Josh who has been her best friend since freshman year.  Lil has crushed on Josh since they met.  So in between the wacky places they visit and the strange conversations they seem to have, they work through problems and face new ones one by one.

I really love Ms. Halpern's writing, it sounds just like a teenage girl and a teenage boy right after graduation.  I also love intuitive things that Lillian would say or think like this quote below when Penny's dad called Lil because Penny was needed that day to babysit her little sister Annabelle:
"And no, it's not a shocker.  Sometimes I think the only reason her parents had Penny was so that they'd have a babysitter for Annabelle.  Like My Sisters Keeper, but in reverse and without cancer."

Then some things are just funny like:

 "Right.  They're very concerned with historical accuracy at the Don Q Inn.  That's why they plopped a heart-shaped bed in the middle of a cave"

And sometimes Lil just seems to get to the heart of the matter:
"I think you just don't want to deal with the fact that we're getting old.  Not man-boob old, but old enough.  It kind of sucks that we have to, you know, be responsible and stuff, but it's also kind of cool.  We get to be responsible.  For our own lives. Instead of relying on people and being disappointed, we get to rely on ourselves.  You can't do that when you're mooching off your dad and playing music in his basement."

Whatever the time or setting during this book, Ms. Halpern gets to the heart of the matter of what it is like to be a teenager just graduating from high school and on the cusp of becoming an adult.  And she does it in a playful way that makes the book just plain fun to read.  I would deem this a perfect summer read whatever your age.  Bad language is kept to a minimum and sex is only alluded to.  It's good clean fun and a fun book to read.

My Rating:  4.0/5.0

About the Book:
On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.
Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?

About the Author:
A native to the Chicago suburbs, She have been a school librarian for more than ten years (old much?).  She live with my sweetheart husband, illustrator Matthew Cordell, and their gloriously large Siamese cat, Tobin.  In her spare time she like to read, watch TV, play Sims 2, and travel.

FTC Information: I received this book through The Teen Book Scene to review for the current tour.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.