Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Me on Get It Together, Delilah!

Title: Get It Together, Delilah!
Author: Erin Gough
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn't have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it's working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del's managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell, or how one of Del's best friends won't stop guilt-tripping her, and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn't do something. But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can't stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door... And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Get It Together, Delilah! is bright, smart, and complicated. It's the story of a teenage girl, all the trouble that falls into her lap, and what happens when she tries to handle it all on her own.

Del is caring, supportive, and super smart. She's a great friend and a caring daughter, knowing that after her mother's departure, her father really needs to get out and have a life. Things will be fine at home and at the café. What could go wrong? Almost everything. Because Del sees some of the problems as her fault, she takes charge. Takes it all on her shoulders. And even through all the seriousness and the worrying, she still finds time to stumble in front of her huge crush, the gorgeous dancer Rosa.

One thing this book does really well is highlight the different problems we get ourselves into, the different things we focus on and tumble into. There's a lot of tunnel vision going on here. Del's managing the café, her father's travelling, her mother's life without her father, Charlie's crush on his tutor. It's easy for readers to see characters and call them out on being selfish or foolish. Look at Del. Dropping out of school? Running a business on her own? Keeping everything a secret and not telling anyone that she needs help? Or Charlie. Possibly going to jail because you were crushing hard on a girl that probably didn't feel the same? Selfish. Stupid. But be in their shoes. Be Del, when your mother's gone and your father's off on an adventure, relying on you to keep the business going, and you can't tell your father because he needs to learn how to be an adult on his own. Be Charlie, young and following your hormones, wanting to profess your love, and running scared when it doesn't work out. And somehow finding something you're good at while you're hiding. It's easy to criticize, but it's just as easy to stop and see why they'd run, why they'd keep it secret. Sometimes we think we can handle our problems on our own, that no one needs to go sticking their noses into our business.

This book is a curious mixture of sweet and serious, of good times and complications. Maybe a little heavy on the serious and the complications. But I found it interesting. It's been a while since I read a contemporary YA set in Australia, the change in setting for me was fresh. Plus the fact that this book doesn't shy away from being honest about homophobia, about how it exists and how it sucks for those being discriminated, but it doesn't overwhelm the book. This book is about Del and her being a lesbian is only part of it. I would recommend this if you're looking for contemporary YA that's both serious and fun, a little like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

(I received a finished copy of this book to review from Raincoast Books.)

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