I am trying to get into the groove of writing book reviews, and as I figure it out for my recent reads, I have been looking back at my old writing. (Aided by my current room decluttering.)
So I thought that today’s post would be a perfect time to share some of my old book reviews. So we can laugh together.
AKA The “Independent Reading Summer Worksheet”
So today’s book reflection will be on Alyson Noel’s Laguna Cove, which is in part thanks to my ‘summer reads’ phase when I was obsessed with all of the beachy romances and would get stacks of books by the same authors out from my library at a time.
Since then, my writing tastes have evolved towards messier and less contemporary stuff. And now I can’t get enough of fantasy books. (Although I still struggle with any time travel books.)
And boy this is also a reflection of myself, too. Thank god my writing has improved.
Anyway, let me share a brief (and current) summary of this book.
Laguna Cove, published in 2006, takes place in Laguna Beach, California, where a bunch of teenagers spend all of their free time on the beach hanging out and surfing, and just soaking up the sun. Anne is the new girl who moves cross country to live with her dad after her parents split up, and she is forced to deal with all of these changes at once, while learning the dynamic of a new school and new peers. Something really upsetting is that Anne had to give up being the captain of the diving team back home with the new move.
The real drama, though, is between Anne and Ellie over popularity and the cutest guy in school…Chris. Ellie is jealous and worried about Anne taking over her friends and her life that she lashes out at Anne. Anne learns to surf and dates Chris. Things get ugly. Everyone picks sides.
And like my original review says, the ending is left open ended…nothing is really concluded. From a quick search of other reviews, many readers feel the same way. That the ending sort of jipped us.
So with that, I would like to share some of my old review of this book. Here are some of the more notable questions and answers.
Identify the AUTHOR. Provide jacket information (if it’s available.) What genre does the author usually adhere to? Have you read anything else by the author? How big an undertaking was the book? (How many pages? How accessible or dense was the author’s language?)
And my 2010 response:
Alyson Noel is the author who writes fictional books about teenage girls lives. I have not read her other books, but I plan to in the future. The book was 216 pages and became a little confusing at times because the phrases the characters use are from California and I am not familiar with it.
My 2019 thoughts are much different. I am trying to prevent myself from editing all of my old writing, but I am laughing. “I am not familiar” with the California phrases is my absolute favorite part, because really? This is coming from the same person who went on to live in Glasgow. Where people are much harder to understand than California. I think that I must have mentioned this to answer how accessible the book was, but present day Samantha would have a very different interpretation of this question, and a very different answer, too. I also think that it is so funny that the school bolded author, as if us 9th graders could not read and understand the whole question and we just needed a snippet.
Another of my favorite questions and answers is this one:
Is there anything special or noteworthy about the author’s handling of CHARACTERIZATION?
And my short response:
The characterization was good, but nothing special.
How did I go from this to becoming an English major, I have no idea.
Like, okay, maybe I simply wasn’t understanding the deeper interpretations of the author question, but this is really funny. Like, zero effort.
I didn’t even explain, just a no. Maybe I was rushing to finish this? Maybe I was writing it the period before it was due. Maybe I meant to get back and finish this question? I guess we will never know if this came out of laziness, procrastination, or what.
And for the epic conclusion:
COMPARE or CONTRAST the book with a book that you’re read before, or a movie you’ve seen, or a short story, or a dramatic production. Or was the book a completely original experience?
And my 9th grade answer:
This book for me was a completely original experience. The way the characters interacted and the problems they faced was all new to me. The way the whole town spends their time at the beach and that surfing is the center of their lives is very strange to me.
Okay, so I want to try and defend this answer here. But first, I purposely kept in the spelling and grammar errors in the question and answer. Just so you know, current me recognizes those errors.
Now, in my defense, maybe this was the first book in this genre that I have actually read. And this is also from a time where I wasn’t exposed to the internet much. I don’t even think I had my own computer or anything more than a flip phone. And I didn’t watch any of those surfing movies?
Still, I could have compared it to Twilight, for crying out loud. For being completely opposite books, for dealing with problems from the sunny summer versus the school year in rainy Forks, Washington.
And yet, here we are. I could not think of anything to compare or contrast. And now that is my favorite thing to do. Talk about #transformationtuesday .
It is also important to note that I read a lot of books from this subsection of YA contemporary beach romance books, there must have been something drawing me into them. And yet I still only gave it two stars. I was a really tough critic, and for a book that I selected on my own, and for an independent summer reading assignment, no less.
And this is the part of me that I still identify with.