Better Than Running at Night -- Hillary Frank
You know those books that you think you've read for years and years and then all of a sudden you're not so sure so you pick it up and you realize that you've been LIVING A LIE and that actually you've never read the book? Yeah, this was one of those.
I loved it. It was so realistic--freshman year in college is like that for so many people. Going to a place where no one knows you, ditching the lame things about your high school persona that not so long ago had been SO important to who you were, reinventing yourself, figuring yourself out at the same time...
I loved Ellie's voice. I loved Ed Gilloggley the frenetic art teacher. Ellie's other teacher was awful, but in a funny-oh-my-god-there-are-so-totally-people-out-there-like-that-and-they-really-do-think-that-they're-artists way. I loved Sam, the really really awkward stoner boy. I hated Nate ("you've never met a...") Finerman, but again, I think I couldn't stand him because there are a lot of Nate Finermans out there in the real world. I've certainly known many.
I don't think I've read a better loss-of-virginity scene.
Ellie's growth as an artist was fascinating and emotional, even for a staunch non-artist such as myself. I especially loved the jabs at performance art. The dialogue was also top-notch--Hillary Frank has a real gift for writing extremely uncomfortable conversations. Those moments were second only to Ellie's inner thoughts, which were spare and dry and witty. Ellie is no Mia Thermopolis. Ellie is Ellie.