And then new-girl Riley arrives in school with her long black hair, athletic body, and her blasé attitude, and suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before for a girl--and to reassess her feelings about Brent and what he may/may not have done. Is Tara gay--or does she just love Riley? And can her deepest friendships survive when all of the rules have changed? From Amazon UK
Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz is one of the books that I realised I had already when it came up when I was doing my research for LGBTQ YA Month. I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while, so I was glad I now had to read it. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it that much.
Tara, Pinkie and Whitney Blaire have been friends for as long as they can remember, and each has a problem. Tara's boyfriend may or may not have been cheating on her. Pinkie's mother died when she was very young, and holds on to hard to every other relationship she has. Whitney Blaire's parents are hardly ever about, and she has a "screw it all" attitude to hide how abandoned she feels. When new girl Riley starts at their school and Tara quickly forms a strong friendship with her, it causes a rift between the three friends. Tara soon realises she has feelings for Riley, but is this something her friends could ever accept?
I didn't like Whitney Blaire. Fine, she has her problems, but that's no excuse for her being a cow. She treats most people like crap, and leads nice, good guys on because she likes the attention. When Riley starts, for pretty much no reason I can see, she takes an instant dislike to her, and is the cruelest person whenever she's around. Also, what's with everyone calling her by her full name? She doesn't have a double-barreled first name, Blaire is her surname. Yet everyone has to call her Whitney Blaire the whole time. It's ridiculous, and it really wound me up. Pinkie is pathetic. Her heart may be in the right place, but she's 16, not 12. She obsessively calls everyone over and over if she doesn't hear from them, because she convinces herself they must have been in some kind of accident. She can't just let people be. Pinkie is just too nice, and worries far too much. It's because of these two girls that I didn't really like the story.
Tara was the only one I liked. She's an athlete, and obsessed with training and nutrition, so I didn't really understand her as I have no interest in those things whatsoever, so got pretty bored during the running parts. However, she's a nice girl. She is majorly hurt by the accusations that her boyfriend has cheated on her, and has trouble dealing with it, despite his denials. She takes a break from him, and starts up her friendship with Riley. Riley, being an athlete herself, really gets Tara, and Tara feels she can completely be herself around her. Spending time with Riley starts seeming like more fun than spending time with the others, as Pinkie is constantly mothering everyone obsessively, and Whitney Blaire will take every opportunity to insult her new friend. Cue more problems.
The focus of the story is the friendship of the three girls, and how it's affected by Tara's relationship with Riley. We don't see as much of Tara and Riley together as you would think, so I can't really comment much on the romance aspect. However, some of the opinions in the book about their relationship can't go unmentioned, specifically Pinkie's opinion that '"...it's just wrong."' (p172). Oh my gosh, her reaction made me so angry! Despite being incredibly annoying, Pinkie is the most caring out of all of them, and her attitude is shocking, and disgusting. This one line says it all, '"I have nothing against gays. I just don't like them near me."' (p174) But the other things she says are just unbelievable.
'...and [Whitney Blaire] thinks Tara and Riley are a... are doing... No, I can't even think about that. It is too gross. I mean, what if Tara has always been that way? Oh my God! I've changed clothes around her.' (p169)
'...I can't talk to Tara when Riley is sitting on the wall behind behind her with her arms around Tara's shoulders. It's bad enough thinking of them as a couple, I don't need them to flaunt it. And in public! It's revoltng! Small kids walk by the high school and what are they going to think if they see two girls behaving like normal couples do? If Tara and Riley act like that where everyone can see, what's going to keep them from forgetting where they are and actually kissing in public? I don't think I could keep my breakfast down.' (p210)There are just no words.
There are some better opinions. When Tara tells her mother about her relationship with Riley, her mum is shocked, and not sure how she feels about it, but she doesn't react badly at all. She's still supportive of her daughter. And when Tara confides that she doesn't really understand what's going on, she comes back with a sweet response.
'"I never thought this would happen to me. Riley says she was born gay. But I never liked girls before I met Riley."This book really isn't my cup of tea. However, despite all the things I didn't like about it, I can't deny that it kept me turning the pages. I don't know why exactly, but I was gripped. Be sure to read other reviews of Of All the Stupid Things, don't decide not to read it based on my review alone.
Mom reaches over and squeezes my hand. "So maybe you're someone who falls in love with a person, not a gender."' (p201)
Thank you to International Book Tours for the review copy.*
Published: 10th May 2011
Publisher: Egmont USA
Buy on Amazon US
Alexandra Diaz's Website
*I don't think International Book Tours are running anymore. The reason why I've had this book so long despite it being part of the tour is because I was the last person to get the book on the tour, and was allowed to keep it.