Monday, October 13, 2008

Headlong by Kathe Koja

Lily Noble is no longer just a day student at the Vaughn School...she now lives in the dormitory full-time and has access to her friends Auds and Jules, and her boyfriend Kells. Sophomore year will be her best if only she can get through living with her roommate Constance, who always has a runny nose and can't think for herself.

But then along comes Hazel....

Hazel is different. She doesn't subscribe to the "traditional" code of conduct at the Vaughn School simply because she's one of the "scholarship" students. She dresses differently, curses inappropriately, and smokes cigarettes whenever and wherever she pleases. Hazel bucks authority in class and doesn't participate in and with anyone or thing. And when Lils sees this, her curiosity begins.

When they first begin their friendship, Hazel lets Lils, or Lily, know exactly what she thinks of the BBG's, or the Burberry Bitch Girls, and their Tiffany bracelets and vacations in Vail, but she shares her gorp and their friendship continues little by little.

And with their friendship, Lily discovers a widening gap between her way of life as she knew it and the one she has with Hazel. She begins to see life a little differently, from her shallow friendships to her relationship with Kells (aka James) to what her mother aspires her to be. And Lily has a decision to make...continue down the footpath of the traditional Vaughn girl, or experience life and what it can hold outside of the safe zone.

Lily finds Hazel exasperating at times and wants desperately to know more about her life - where she grew up, who her parents are, and who is Duncan and Magnus? The secrets both girls are reluctant to share at first and the adventures they go through together, from defacing the school statue to relationships with guys, cements their bond. Through boxes of Hot Cherry Ropes, the girls are comfortable with each other and the social class they represent at school, although others are always looking to sabotage it. And as the year progresses, so do the changes both Hazel and Lily go through. Life can be different, but in the end it's about personal choices.

Kathe Koja combines a narrative about friendship and personal struggles with first-person viewpoints from people who orbit around Hazel and Lily without ever reaching into the core of their friendship. From this perspective, the reader gets not only an omniscient look at the main characters, but fully understands what each girl is going through individually as well as together. Although the length of her books are short, this is a beautifully crafted story that shows the meaning of true friendship and the maturity that happens to teens over a period of one year. Sophomores are not the same as juniors...something magical happens to them, and Koja catches this magic perfectly.
PS - I've already started my "list" to create a booktrailer for this one!! I'll be working on that this week : )

No comments: