With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.
I do have to say that I, among others, had fairly low expectations of this book after taking a look at it’s cover and title. I mean–it’s wasn’t just that the word dude takes up much more of the cover than it should. However, I was determined to give it a try after hearing some good things about it and I did enjoy it.
I think that the best thing about this book, is Danielle herself. Reading her journals and thoughts made me laugh, smile and understand her story in a way that really shone around her. That was super important to me for this book from the beginning because of how mental illness stories usually work for me. If I don’t understand the characters, then no matter how good the book is–I can’t fully love it. And this book pulled it off.
Just a note–I love essays. Organizing and writing are two of my favorite things to do, and in school essays were my favorite kind of assignment. It was also the most common of all my favorite school-related things to do. I feel like essays are –among other things–a gateway into how people think about certain things, and reading Danielle’s essays, emails and notes were truly a joy for me to dive into. They’re real and personal, and the way this book is written really brings out every aspect of Danielle and her life in the best way.
I’m not sure how this book will play out with others. It is a little iffy in some parts of it and it did take me a little while to get into it, but it is a heartwarming, fun and insightful read and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested. You just have to keep an open mind, and before you know it–you’ll be loving every minute of this book. 4 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 240
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