Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Gimme a Call Cover Cute contemporary, paranormal chick lit

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Ember
Pages: 320 pages
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Seventeen-year-old Devi Banks will graduate high school in a few weeks, and the sole thing she's dedicated herself to for the past three and a half years, her relationship with her boyfriend Bryan, has blown up in her face. He is planning to attend a university in Montreal, and he doesn't want them to have a long-distance relationship. He and Devi have been joined at the hip for so long, he claims he needs to rediscover who he is separate from her.

Devi is heartbroken--and enraged. She sacrificed everything for Bryan, and she has nothing to show for it. Because she let her grades slide and participated in no extracurricular activities, her qualifications for admission at a university are so poor, her only option is to attend a community college. She also has no one to mourn her losses with her, because she abandoned her three best friends soon after she started dating Bryan, and her parents are too wrapped up in their own misery to care about Devi's. Her father was laid off, and her mother is working a job she hates to replace his lost income.

While standing by a fountain in the mall where people regularly toss in nickles to make a wish, Devi wishes she could go back in time to her freshman year when she began dating Bryan and warn her younger self to avoid him like the plague. Immediately after that, Devi's cell phone slips out of her hand and lands in the fountain far enough away that she has to wade in and get it. After much hassle, she locates it lying on top of a pile of make-a-wish nickles. Water destroys cell phones, but after Devi retrieves hers, she frantically starts jabbing buttons, just in case, and discovers there is only one thing it can do: place one-way calls to a strange girl who insists her name is Devi Banks.

After multiple laugh-out-loud moments of back-and-forth confusion, Devi discovers to her amazement that the strange girl is herself--at 14! Somehow, some way, her wish has been granted to nip in the bud a number of bad freshman decisions that have led to her current dead-end life.

Older Devi nicknames the younger version of herself "Frosh," but dubs herself, "Ivy," the favorite name of both the younger and older Devi, and this is only the beginning of Ivy-Devi taking complete control of Frosh-Devi's life. Frosh is naive and impressionable, and the much more forceful Ivy easily overwhelms her. Ivy insists that Frosh overcome her natural tendency to laziness, not in a gradual way, but going from one extreme to the other, studying like crazy and pursuing multiple extracurricular activities, so that Ivy can get into a decent university. The biggest demand of all, though, is that Frosh absolutely refuse to have anything to do with Bryan when he asks her out for their fateful first date.

This is delightful chick lit with a wonderful, paranormal, time-travel twist. Though Ivy has the laudable intention of providing both herself and Frosh with a better future, her misguided methods involve comic extremes, and there is a great deal of amusing irony in the fact that Ivy is constantly nagging Frosh to work harder than Ivy ever did in her life. It is also funny in a mind-bending way to observe Ivy's world warping around her like a cosmic kaliedoscope in response to every destiny-changing action that Ivy pushes Frosh to take.

The juxtaposition of sweet, naive Frosh with cynical, narcissistic Ivy, as two sides of the same Devi Banks, has the happy effect of allowing the reader to experience Ivy as more sympathetic than she would otherwise be. She isn't just running roughshod over any young girl who looks up to her--she's running roughshod over a version of herself.

Finally, in spite of all the madcap mayhem, the author subtly conveys a significant "girl power" message: getting obsessed with a boyfriend in high school can result in losing important female friendships and detrimentally impacting a girl's higher-education opportunities.

I read this book as a Kindle version, and it is well formatted and edited.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Subcharacters: 4

Chick Lit Contemporary Fantasy Plot: 5

Writing: 5

Overall: 5

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