Boy Proof -- Cecil Castellucci

Boy proofFrom Boy Proof:

In honor of watching the movie today, I am wearing my best Egg outfit. Long white cloak, white pants, white shirt. Hair freshly shaved to a buzzed perfection. Pale white skin. Colored eyebrows.  Neutral lips. In the future there is no lipstick.  Thank goodness for that. I'd be quite content with a world that doesn't force women to wear makeup to be beautiful. I'm sure it would destroy my mom though.

"How can you leave the house without your face on?" Mom says over and over again.

"My face is on," I have to say to her. "My plain, not beautiful, just normal, no-makeup-on face."

"Ugh, you make yourself boy proof on purpose," she always says.

And that's what I am. Boy proof.

Victoria Jurgen (she prefers to be called Egg) is the daughter of divorced parents. Her mother is a has-been actress best known for her work a decade and a half ago on a cult sci-fi show and her father is an Oscar-winning special effects artist.

Egg dresses, talks and sometimes even thinks like the super-badass (and bald) heroine of her favorite movie:

I look up at the clock. It's two-twenty. I watch the second hand inch by the face. I concentrate on it and try to bend time like Egg does in Terminal Earth. No such luck. Time won't move any faster for me.

She is extremely bright, and likes people to be aware of that fact. She likes routine and she likes to be in control. She likes to be seen as a loner. Although she's a photographer for the school newspaper and is a member of the sci-fi club, she avoids much interaction with her fellow students. She isn't (that) rude—she will talk to them if asked a direct question, but she doesn't generally initiate conversation. She's comfortable with the way things are.   

I fell for this book immediately. Ron Koertge called it "compulsively readable", and I agree. I read half of it last night, then tossed and turned for ages before I finally gave up on sleep and got up to finish it. Thanks a lot, Cecil Castellucci. Now I'm going to be zombified all day. Patrons beware.

Oddly, it took me a little longer to fall for Victoria. For me, falling for a book and falling for a character usually happen at the same time. But Victoria was different. She's... prickly. There were moments towards the beginning when she didn't seem to let herself in, let alone anyone else. 

Max, on the other hand (the book is called Boy Proof, people, OF COURSE there's a boy in it), won me over very early on. Odd, because I'm not usually a fan of idealistic Latin-spouting deep-thinking artist-types. But he had pink Japanese Kleenex. How could I resist that?

It could be described as your basic teen-finds-herself-and-grows-as-a-person story, but for me, it was more than that. Partly because I know that if I'd had this book as a teen, I would have identified with Egg in a big way. And partly because I appreciated the fact that Cecil Castellucci trusted her readers enough to refrain from spelling everything out. 

For example: Max's reaction upon discovering that Egg skipped a grade: "Oh, that explains a lot." Nothing more was said. I think a lot of other authors would have added more, like a lame lengthy interior monologue sequence in which Egg lists all of the difficulties of skipping a grade, and how so much of her current behavior stems from that. But no. Max says, "Oh, that explains a lot" and drops it. It was a fabulous moment.

So I forgive you for my lost hours of sleep, C.C. I'm tired but not cranky. (I can't guarantee my mood in a few hours, though. It might be a rough day.)