Thursday, March 21, 2013

For Anyone Who Had a Crush on the Popular Kid in High School

I wasn't the popular kid in school back in the day (do the popular kids grow up and start blogs about good novels and documentaries?), but Davie Jones, the protagonist in the novel 32 Candles brings unpopularity to a new level. The story takes place in small town, Mississippi, in the era of 1984's hit movie, 16 Candles. Davie, born to a negligent, violent and unloving single mother (it was quite disturbing when the author finally revealed information about her birth father), has such low self-esteem, that although she's borderline brilliant, she ceases to talk.  From her unkempt hair to her second-hand clothing, she has little chance of standing out (in a good way) in the typically fashion-conscious high school environment. Her mom's less-than-respectable reputation around town also doesn't help matters.

Suddenly, Davie has a reason to look forward to going to school when a wealthy (and beautiful by stereotypical standards- they're described as being a light-skinned, light-eyed African American family, although light doesn't equal beautiful) family moves to town, and the three children enroll at her school.  Davie quietly (obviously if she doesn't talk) develops an obsessive, engrossing crush on the brother, who, of course, is tall, handsome, kind, and the captain of the football team. Somehow, Davie gets an invite to the family's VIP, invite-only party, and after a completely mortifying experience there, she logically arrives at the conclusion that there is no way she can return to school, so her best bet is to leave town. She literally catches a ride with a random truck driver (which forces her to finally open her mouth and communicate) and heads to LA.

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Fast forward several years, and Davie has reinvented herself. And this novel wouldn't exist if she didn't, by chance, run into her high school crush, who has also relocated to LA, and doesn't recognize her. And she's not trying to reveal her true identity, either, but he's adamant about getting to know her. Davie jumps through hoops trying to conceal her identity, but as the saying goes, the truth always comes to light. It also helps if you hire a private investigator, which is what her crush's sister did. The information the PI reveals about Davie makes the reader somewhat second-guess her dedication to "Team Davie- The Underdog" as she sees a sneaky, under-handed, untrustworthy side of Davie that she didn't even know existed.  But by the end, Davie manages to win us over again.

Author Ernessa Carter, blogger at, wrote 32 Candles. Given the domain name, one must wonder how much she borrowed from real life in writing this novel, as I would probably use those exact words to describe the new, improved LA Davie. This is Ms. Carter's first book (she has also recently co-authored on a book called Better Than Good Hair), but since I couldn't put 32 Candles down, I eagerly anticipate her next novel!

As you can probably guess, I highly recommend this book. Given that I'm a grad student with lots of homework, and I still managed to devour this book in a couple of days, says alot!

Were you the nerd or cool kid in high school? How has that influenced the person you are today?

Have you read this book?


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