Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Title: Ten Things We Shouldn’t Have Done
Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genres: Romance, Drama
Published: June 2011
I was about to live a sixteen-year-old’s dream. House on the beach. No parents. Parties whenever we wanted. Boys wherever we wanted. April and her best friend, Vi, are living by themselves. Of course, April’s parents don’t know that. They think she’s living with Vi and Vi’s mum. But it’s not April’s fault that her dad decided to move away in the middle of high school. So who could blame her for a little white lie? Or the other nine things that April (probably) shouldn’t have done that year…
The story is told through the list of the ten things they shouldn’t of done during April’s stay at Vi’s house, and throughout, you learn about her relationship with her boyfriend, friends, parents, and also how she grows up and becomes a much more mature person – learning how to do simple things like buy the right food at the supermarket and use the dishwasher. Losing friends and making friends with people she never would of thought, April seems to go through a seriously emotional time in her life and overcomes almost every obstacle I can imagine.
Ten Things is one of Mlynowski’s first YA Fiction novels, and boy am I glad that she decided to venture into the wonderful YA world. I do admire that some usually don’t-talk-about-it topics are discussed, as I think it is so important for young people to know about some of these issues, even if from a fictional angle, as they are becoming much more of a reality for younger people in recent years. Some of them could be perceived as awkward to talk to parents about, so I think it’s great that the book really discusses them in a way that doesn’t make them seem unapproachable, but describes them as realistic and relatable struggles with accessible solutions.
For me, the ideas and themes in this book seem very current, completely crazy and really exciting. Coming from the UK and having just finished school at 16, I can’t drive and would never be allowed to stay with my friend alone in a house together if my parents and siblings moved across country. So, in this way, it seems a bit out there and unrealistic if I compare it to what I know and experience in my every day life. Though, there are some aspects of the novel that are similar to my own life and my friends lives’ – friendships, parties, boyfriends. I found it so interesting to learn about these things, that I have my own experiences and views about, from someone else, be it a fictional character.
April learns so much and matures a lot throughout the novel, meaning great character development. This just makes me love her even more, as I assume any teenager, that could empathise with the character, would. I get the impression that through the separation of her parents, she has adopted the idea that eventually everything breaks apart or splits up, whether it’s friendships or relationships. Therefore, she bases a lot of decisions on the outcomes she expects, whether they are rational and likely, or not.
Personally, I can imagine doing a lot of things that the characters in this book do: act hard to get, be incredibly awkward or put my foot in my mouth, so I can relate myself to a lot of the characters. April and her friends all interact and link to each other in different ways, whether it is as enemies, strangers or friends. At the end of the novel, this closely-bonded network helps April have a much more positive outlook on the world and her life. I couldn’t help but be jealous of some of the amazing people she met.
To summarise, I read the whole thing in a few hours, and, at some parts, it reminded me of fan-fiction with the interesting directions this novel takes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light-read that will make you fall in love with realistic characters and events!
Star Rating: ★★★★☆