Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Ruin My Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles

How to Ruin My Teenage Life
By Simone Elkeles
June 8, 2007
Flux, 281 pages

In this sequel to How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, EVERYTHING in sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson Barak’s life is going wrong! Her mom got married and moved to the suburbs, and now they are going to have a baby. Amy moves in with her dad in Chicago and signs him up for an online dating service. His first four dates are that night . . .

What else? Her dog Mutt impregnated her grumpy neighbor’s prized poodle, so Amy will actually have to get a part-time job to pay for half the veterinary bill. And there’s this totally annoying boy, Nathan Rubin, who just moved into her apartment building. Luckily, Amy has a cute boyfriend named Avi. Only he’s more like a non-boyfriend considering Avi is in the Israeli army for the next three years.

What’s a girl to do when everyone is conspiringto ruin her life?

— description

What, is it unintentionally Simone Elkeles week on this blog?

I can't help it. I just adore her. She really understands teens and how complicated it can be for them to balance their friendships, their parents and their first forays into romance. The girl GETS IT, which I why I enjoy all of her books. This one is no different. Loved it.

That being said, I didn't love it as much as I loved the first book in this series, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation. My favorite part of that book was Amy's introduction to Israeli culture. It's still there in this book as she starts her studies into Judaism, but it's just not as prevalent. And it was missed.

I was so attached to Amy that it was great to see what happened when she got home from Israel...not to mention what happened between her and Avi. I'm breathlessly checking my library account online to see when the next book (How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation) is coming in. It's been marked "in transit" forever!

A bonus: This was set in Chicago! I read it on the El heading downtown each morning, and couldn't help thinking I'd spot Amy on my walk to work. I'm such a sucker for Chicago books.

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. I love love love Simone Elkeles and she is SO nice in real life, although at BEA the line for her took forever because she was answering like a million questions and chatting forever with fans. That said, have you seen the awesome bind-ups for this series? THey are all in one book and I desperately WANT!

    Also, methinks I want to read this series soooooon.

  2. I adore Simone Elkeles, too. She's so awesome! And I have to agree.. she definitely knows how to touch on the teenage spirit. Notice how she's not afraid to bring different cultures in to her stories? Yet still keep it fresh & happening for young readers? I love that.

    Great review, Anna!

  3. I have only ever read her Perfect Chemistry book... (and OH MY GOD, DID I READ IT) but I really would like to expand my Simone Elkeles reading agenda.

    PS... was this the book where they discuss the complexities of "lamesauce" and "weaksauce?"

  4. I love Simone Elkeles (in a totally literary way). She's seriously brilliant, and I'm glad to see you liked this one, too! Great review :)

  5. I love Simone Elkeles, but I haven't read this series. Sounds great, though! :)

  6. Isn't Simone Elkeles amazing? I love her books! The Paradise ones are great too! I have the bind up of the Amy books. I've read the first two but not the third. Like you I enjoyed the first one better but still liked this one :) I met her at an author event back in September. She was really funny!

  7. I literally will repeat what April has said, I WANT THIS SERIES NOW. I read a couple of her other books and i've always enjoyed them and these do seem like they would be my kinda thing. FABULOUS REVIEW!

  8. How interesting. This seems totally different than Perfect Chemistry. Is it as light and innocent-ish as the cover and summary sound? I think I'd really like the Israeli culture aspect.

  9. I was just looking at this series at the library today, but I decided to hold off on it because I have way too many library books right now. After reading your review, though, I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list.

    I've also awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Congratulations! Go here to check it out:

  10. I've only read her "Paradise" series...which I loved. I think Maggie and Caleb are two of my fav YA characters to date! If you haven't checked Leaving Paradise or Return to Paradise out, do so! I'll be looking for Perfect Chem. and this "ruin" series at the library soon. Thanks for the suggestion!


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