Thursday, July 16, 2009

Throwback Thursday: My Life as a Rhombus

Throwback Thursday will be a day when we review a book we read in the past or a book that was published awhile ago.Today's Throwback Thursday is a novel I truly enjoyed: My Life as Rhombus

Boys + Love = Trouble
Staying on track at school means a boy-free equation for Rhonda Lee, who spends most evenings doing homework and eating Chinese takeout with her dad. While Rhonda needs a scholarship for college, some kids at her private high school, like beautiful Sarah Gamble, seem to coast along on popularity and their parents' money.
When forced to tutor Sarah in trigonometry, Rhonda recognizes all too well the symptoms—queasiness, puking, exhaustion—that Sarah is trying to mask. On a sudden impulse, Rhonda shares her past with Sarah. Exchanging their secrets adds up to more truths than either girl would have dreamed.

My Life as a Rhombus is a rare sort of YA novel. It combines all the romantic pursuit and insecurity of a fluff novel with the depth and maturity of a serious read. This book thwarts the idea that fun novels are lacking in lessons and truth. With all the skill of a great teacher, it slips in its messages between laughs, letting the reader learn subconsciously.

This novel contains lessons about love, loss, friendship, and teen pregnancy, without feeling forced. Reading this, I felt that I was getting a peek inside the mind of an ordinary teenage girl, rather than an adult male author, writing what he thinks teenage girls are like. This is often the painful case when males try to write from the female perspective, especially the teenage female perspective. Varian Johnson doesn't give an inkling of his own gender when writing from the perspective of Rhonda. In fact, I was quite surprised to realize, halfway through the novel, that the author was male.

I found Rhonda a relatable, believable character. Though she is a math whiz, she is in no way intimidating. Unlike the fairies, vampires, immortals, and bad girls that are all the rage these days, she is just a normal girl, who's made her share of mistakes. She is very likeable and logical, never throwing herself headfirst into things like the Bella Swans of the book world. At the same time, her emotions are more than evident and are appropriate to each situation she experiences.

I found David adorable and likeable as well. He was caring and charming, but he also had flaws, making him more real. You could also clearly see that he had an emotional side and a temper.

I don't remember much about Sarah, except that her character evolved quite a bit in the novel from coarse to likeable. The transition was smooth and forced me to change my mind about her.

I don't remember Rhonda's friends, Gail and Xavier, at all, so I don't think they were very well-developed. I remember nothing about Sarah and David's mother, except that I didn't care for her.

Christopher is a huge jerk. He was totally depthless. In the character sense, he had the right amount of depth for his role in the book, but as a person, he was a depthless jerk. This was obviously Johnson's intent, and he really hit the nail on the head, making me dislike this character a great deal. And "a great deal" is an understatement.

Overall, this was a great novel, and I can't remember having any complaints. I have recommended this to multiple friends, and they all liked it as well.

If you are a Caucasian reader who would like to read books by people of color or with main characters that are of color, this is a great novel to start with. There are no heavy themes about race, and it could be a great warm-up for more serious novels.

Plot: 8/10
Readability: 9/10
Character Development: 9/10 The minor characters didn't seem too real.
Ending: 7/10 The book kind of slows to a smooth stop.
Writing: 8.5/10 The writing wasn't exactly lyrical, but it made for believable characters. An extra .5 because this is a male author writing from a teenage, female perspective.

If you would like to read another review of this novel, check out Reading in Color.

Tashi <3


Color Online said...

Great review! I read this and I had some concerns. Mainly with underdeveloped characters but like you, I really related to Rhonda. Was thrilled to see a range in class and experiences. We forget African Americans are no more monolithic than any other racial/ethnic group.

What I hoped for was more examination of Rhonda's relationship with her dad. You don't often see this relationship in YA and I felt this was a missed opportunity. Despite their problems, it was clear they loved each other.

MissAttitude said...

I totally agree about the whole male-author perspective thing. He did a really good job of delving into the emotions of a teenage girl. I like the Throwback Thrusday idea. Mind if I borrow it sometime? With a link to your page, of course. :)

Color Online said...


Please check out and post your responses on your blog for Susan's Unofficial List of Great YA Literature by or About Women of Color.


Color Online said...


And you're growing fanbase is patiently waiting for you to post your blogroll.

Taste Life Twice said...

I really liked the father-daughter relationship as well and would have liked to see it explored more.

You can totally borrow the Throwback Thursday idea! Feel free!

And ok, I'll make a blogroll today. lol

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I really enjoyed reading your review. I'll have to look out for it sometime. Thanks!


The Brain Lair (KB) said...

Wow. What a great review! I especially enjoyed the part about light reading but full of learning. I added you to my blog roll!

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