Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter (ATWT)

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Graphia; (April 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0152066497
ISBN-13: 978-0152066499

 It’s the summer before senior year and Polly Martin has sworn off boys. Who needs the hurt and confusion? Five recent breakups have left her with an unnatural knowledge of NASCAR, the ultimate hiker’s outfit, a student council position, the sixth highest score on the Donkey Kong machine at the mall, and a summer job at Wild Waves with ex #2 Sawyer Holmes.
Success seems a sure thing when Polly’s grandmother, the syndicated advice columnist, Miss Swoon, moves in for the summer. Polly almost doesn’t mind sharing a room with her little sister, Grace. Think of all the great advice she’ll get!
Everything is going according to plan except... Miss Swoon turns out to be a man-crazy septuagenarian! And then there’s Xander Cooper. If only he wouldn’t keep showing up at Wild Waves with his adorable cousins every afternoon — and what is he writing in that little notebook?
No advice column in the world can prepare Polly for the lessons she learns when she goes on a group camping trip (with three too many ex-boyfriends). Polly is forced to see people for who they are — a blend of good and bad qualities that can’t be reduced to a list or a snappy answer in a Miss Swoon column. 


The multitude of ex's hasn't really sunk in for Polly yet. When she gets stuck with a job with ex #2 Sawyer, she finally sees how dating the most active people in her junior year might just backfire. Active meaning that, for each one of them she's had to do something in order to keep up with what they were interested in, and mold herself to keep them interested in her. Having enough with the male species for a while, Polly wishes to disconnect herself from the testosterone population. Being focused on work because of the amount of bills piling up and having her "Miss Swoon" advice columnist grandmother in the house seem like perfect ways to distract herself. However, when she starts to get the feeling that "Miss Swoon" doesn't heed her own advice, and her mother takes a job at the Hamburger Heaven--local burger joint that Polly's friends populate frequently--she finds that she needs to escape from her own life in order to feel any semblance of control. Xander Cooper's hot new appearance plans to splash that thought out of the water.

Knowing that any relationship with Xander Cooper can only end up with more activities and her than she can handle, Polly chooses to distance her as much as her hormones deem possible. When she starts seeing him more and more frequently with his nieces and nephews and her Wild Waves job, she realizes that avoiding him will be more difficult than she ever thought.

Swoon at Your Own Risk was more of an enjoyable and touching story to read than I ever expected it to be. SAYOR was a lighthearted, psychological read of the common household missing a male-father figure. Polly's way of pushing away anyone that tried to get close enough to see under the surface was well interpreted and had a meaningful understanding when you see how tough of a childhood she experienced. Salter's writing of Polly's experiences when life gets too complicated dealing so many of her ex's was well-crafted and developed into the harsh tale of how Polly deals with such situations. Running away and hiding her problems behind jokes seemed common for her, pushing away from her loved ones looked like second-nature. When a new character breaks into the mix, he doesn't seem to faze Polly at first. Finding that he has his own issues somehow makes her slowly realize her mistakes and regrets. Polly's wide-ranged knowledge, vocabulary words, and charismatic-positive attitude developed her character in the book progressively.

SAYOR is recommended with the heartiest of character revelations.

Grade: A-