Notes on a Near-Life Experience -- Olivia Birdsall

Mia's family is falling apart.  Weeks after her parents split up, her father jets off to Peru and brings back a Peruvian, her older brother starts skipping school on a regular basis and her little sister still refuses to acknowledge any changes in her life.

On the plus side, she's starting to think that her life-long unrequited crush on her brother's best friend has lost the "un".

Notes on a Near-Life ExperienceNotes on Notes on a Near-Life Experience:

  • Very, very short chapters -- some are less than a page long.  They're more vignettes than chapters, really.  They're titled, rather than numbered, and many of them would stand on their own as (extremely) short fiction.  Reluctant readers will approve.
  • The majority of the chapters/vignettes follow this format -- interaction/event followed by summing up/response.  I could have done without most of the summing up.  Sometimes it felt introspective, but more often it felt repetitive and over-explanatory.
  • Loved the beginnings of Mia's romance with Julian:

"You want another piece, Meems?" Julian asks me.

"Sure."  I pass my plate down the couch to him.

It takes him a while to pass it back.  When Keatie hands me the plate, I notice that there's no pepperoni on the piece.

I hate eating pepperoni, but I like the way it makes pizza taste--the chewy, fatty, meatiness just grosses me out--so I always order pepperoni pizza and then pick off the pepperoni.  That way I can still sort of taste the pepperoni, but I don't have to eat it.

I lean over and look down the couch to where Julian sits with a small stack of pepperoni on his plate, yelling out answers in the form of questions.

He's never touched my pepperoni before.

  • I also loved the scene where he asks her to prom.  It was frighteningly similar to my reaction to Josh's marriage proposal, except that Mia didn't ask if Allen Funt was in the next room.
  • For a bright girl, Mia took a really, really long time to become aware of her brother's drinking.  When she questions him about the flask in his backpack, she notices that he's nervous, he gives her the lamest excuse EVER (he's using it as a water bottle) and she still doesn't get it?
  • The best friend piece was well done, as was the triangle between Mia, her brother and his best friend.

Overall, it was a little issue-y for me, but I did like the format.  Solid pick for fans of realistic teen/family drama.