Mafia Girl -- Deborah Blumenthal
When I picked Mafia Girl up, I was CONVINCED that it was historical fiction.
As it opens with the main character and one of her best friends getting pulled over while A) driving a stolen Porsche 911, B) looking for an outlet that sells Louboutins (our narrator hilariously tries punching 'Louboutins' into the GPS), and C) after a dinner comprised solely of beer and Ritz Bits, I put my critical thinking skills to good use and concluded OH WAIT, THIS IS A CONTEMPORARY.
Gia loves her father and she loves her family, but all she really wants is to be out of the life. While being the daughter of a powerful mafia don has its perks—most notably that she can get her hands on pretty much any commodity she wants—she hates that her peers both look down on her AND fear her (although, to be honest, the latter comes in handy sometimes, too), and she's uncomfortable with the violence and death that are connected to her own personal comfort and economic status.
- Gia's voice. Readers who don't like stream of consciousness or digression will DEFINITELY dislike it, but as I like both of those qualities, it worked for me. She comes off as honest, too, even in talking about moments that don't put her in the most flattering of lights.
- Gia's sexual appetite. Props to Blumenthal for allowing Gia to lust after someone and for allowing her to pursue that feeling without branding her a slut. I do have some issues with that storyline, but I did appreciate that aspect of it.
- Her best friend, Clive, who she describes as a "totally unique, asexual, standout person who looks, acts, dresses, and thinks differently from everyone else on the planet." Their friendship is by far the strongest and most interesting one in the book, and I loved Gia's blasé acceptance of Clive's sexual orientation.
- The cultural depictions in the book—both Gia's Italian heritage and the mafia stuff—reads as cartoonishly stereotypical.
- The love story—between Gia and a cop—is problematic on two major levels, neither of which is addressed. #1: She's underage and he's got to be in his early twenties at LEAST. #2: Her pursuit of him is extremely uncool, especially given that he asks her to stop. Animal magnetism doesn't justify stalking, and her choice to ignore his discomfort was just... yuck. If you're having difficulty seeing the yick factor, just reverse the gender roles. See? Yick.
- Also, we're supposed to care about and root for things to work out between them, but we never get to know him at all. Criminy, Gia hardly gets to know him at all, and she's the one who supposedly falls in love with him. The physical attraction, I buy—there are some extremely effective steamy moments—but the LOVE? Not so much.
- There are loads of plot elements—bullying; the school election; collateral damage related to her father's work; the romance; depression, loneliness, and suicide—but they never gel into a cohesive whole.
Gordon Korman's Son of the Mob was a far better fit for me.
Book source: ILLed through my library.