When 17 year old Harley finds herself jobless, she needs a new job-- and quick. Her uncle comes to her house with a job offer. For her to become a teacher at his school. A school for delinquents.
Published December 10, 2010 by Random House
Not gonna lie: When I first read the synopsis, I thought this was going to be a lot like How to Lead a Life of Crime-- which, if I'm being honest, I completely loved-- so my expectations were a little high. However, after the first couple of chapters, the author says that this is supposed to be a romantic comedy with a little action thrown in. So-- probably no psychos trying to murder each other in between kisses. She also adds that this book does not have a plot, and that it's not supposed to. (I think what she actually meant by that is that there is no goal of the story, since technically every book has a plot, even if it's not very good).
I'm going to go ahead and say there was a lot that I didn't love about this book-- but most (read: not all) of them could be fixed with a little editing.
This is a review of the unedited version. It's like the first first draft-- there are plenty of typos and rough descriptions and the like. So, in order to be fairer, I'm going to be discussing/reviewing the story and characters. Not the grammar. (This is basically a warning for those of you who are considering reading this: If bad grammar makes your head hurt, try to find the published version).
Harley associates bad things with the rain. Her pet was killed in the rain, her grandfather passed away from cancer when it was raining, her parents were killed in a car accident when it was raining, and now, when she's fired from her job-- it's raining. Obviously, Harley is not a very happy person-- she's stressed out, she's trying to take care of her little brother, and... she's how old? Seventeen. This girl is seventeen.
Maybe I'm just being picky, but LEGALITIES, peoples. They exist-- and they're kinda hard to avoid. She can't be a legal guardian until she's eighteen but she is.
Before you say that being a teacher at seventeen is also impossible, Harley is pretending to be twenty-one so that she can have this job.
Conveniently, the entire senior class (the one most of the book focuses on) is made up of boys. All boys. And, not to sound extremely rude, but are all teenage boys complete apes? I've never been to public school so I have no idea how it works, but how the heck are they allowed to treat her like that. Obviously, this is fiction, but I must know-- does this actually happen???
Harley is about as naive and innocent as a newborn child. In the time it took her eyes well up and her cheeks to flush ten times, I'd plotted each of their deaths three different ways. This is arguably a side-effect of writing so many deaths, but oh, well. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS.
This is not an insult to her personality. Harley is sweet-- but that's about it. She's nice and trusting and thinks everyone should get along all the time. (Which drove me insane, to be completely honest). These are all good qualities! BUT. She is also incredibly stubborn. Illogically so. She won't take a job that could save her and her brother because it's offered by someone she knows so it's therefore "charity". She won't stop trying to see the good in people when they've harassed her 1332374687846 times and they've physically assaulted her.
I do not understand.
On to the love triangle. Or should I say love octagon, because literally every guy has a thing for Harley. And they all like her because she's helpless. What. Also, before I talk about how completely abrupt it is (Example: "Hello, you are covered in flour because I dumped it on you and also you look sad let me help you up-- WAIT you are also a cute human... WHAT ARE THESE FEELINGS I AM A MANLY CRIMINAL") let me just mention how much Harley has no idea what she's doing.
She literally yells, at a classroom full of teenage delinquent boys whilst covered in flour, that they must respect her.
I felt real, physical pain.
Now, back to topic: Oliver and Arden are the love interests. The main love interests. They are nearly polar opposites in personality, with Oliver being cold and moody and Arden being flirtatious and outgoing, and they are leaders of two opposing school gangs. They're also ex-bffs but they don't like to talk about it. Both of them have their own secrets and bad qualities (Oliver has possibly the worst temper in the world and Arden has a tendency to lie about everything), but they're each also endearing in each of their ways. I will say this: It is adorable how all of Harley's students come to care for her as a person.
The ending is about as vague as it can possibly be as to who Harley actually sticks with, but I've heard the ending has been dramatically changed and that there's a new epilogue in the published version.
There are maybe three women who are mentioned more than once-- one is never actually shown, another is mentioned in passing, and another is there as a friend but it's never shown why they became friends at all. And they spend very little time together.
Now, peoples, don't get me wrong. This wasn't an awful book, no matter how much I've ranted about it. I was expecting an action-y, mystery-y, thriller-y book, and, obviously, that's not what this book is about. If you're looking for a light, cutesy read, full of cliches, then definitely go for it. If you're looking for something darker and more suspenseful, this is about the opposite of that.