Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin

Dinah and Skint are best friends. Dinah is flighty while Skint is moody. Dinah worries about the beauty of things while Skint worries about Monks being tortured in Burma and people starving to death. While Dinah is worried about matching her stripy skirts and leggings, Skint refuses to wear a coat in the Maine winter as a form of self-punishment for having luxuries while others suffer. Dinah has two loving parents who adore her while Skint’s father suffers from dementia, and it’s ripping his family apart. All Dinah wants to do is help Skint. All Skint wants is for Dinah to mind her own business.

The basic premise of this novel is unique. I like the idea that it’s not enough to care about injustices; we need to DO something about them. If we aren’t part of the solution, we are inadvertently a part of the problem. I don’t think enough YA communicates this important message.

The plot is slow-moving and boring. Part of this is due to the disjointed sub-plots that are never developed as well as the shallowness of the characters (all of them). The voice of each character is unique; however, it isn't believable. For instance, there are times that Dinah speaks like a woman from the Victorian era instead of a fifteen-year-old from 2012. To offset this, Skint curses a lot, which seems a bit overused. I know that the author uses this technique to convey emotion, but most of the scenes are flat, so it isn't very authentic.

The scenes are repetitive, poorly developed, and monotonous. Nothing interesting happens until 80 pages before the end of the book (the novel is 349 pages). By then, the reader has lost interest. In fact, I had to force myself to finish it. As a result, I would not suggest this novel to any of my students.