Came Out: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Buy It On Amazon:
Recommended for Ages
12 and Up
due to mild substances (alcohol)
PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!
Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.
Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.
But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!
Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.
But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.
Basically, this novel is about a girl, Brooklyn, who was already famous. Famous for her falling down a mineshaft when she was a baby and miraculously surviving, she is still known as Baby Brooklyn.
The problem with this, she notices, is that she has been making bad decisions for her entire life. She can’t help it, but she always either says the wrong thing, does the wrong thing, or picks the wrong choice. She can’t think about the effects of her action, and she HATES that about herself.
At the beginning of the book, Brooklyn burns down a house. She – due to the persuasion of her best friend – had snuck into her mother’s office and stolen the key to a model house. Due to her state of intoxication, Brooklyn decided to make fajitas using the fake fruit in the house. Commence burning.
Led out in handcuffs, Brooklyn vows to never make bad decisions anymore. After being ditched by her “friend” and becoming a bit of a social outcast, she is tired of doing the wrong thing. She already got community service hours for it!
For her community service, Brooklyn is assigned to talk with and read to one stubborn woman at her local nursing home. The woman doesn’t usually like anybody, but when she hears that her reader is Baby Brooklyn, she accepts it with minimal grumbling. Brooklyn reads the woman’s collection of Choose-Your-Story novels to the woman and discovers that she doesn’t have to control her life anymore.
In a flash of brilliance, she runs to her computer and creates a blog – My Life Undecided – where she can explain her options and plead to her blog readers to vote on which option that they think she should choose. In this manner, she picks English texts, extracurriculars, and even boyfriends!
When I saw this, I noticed – ironically – that the book was about a girl who was confused, and looked to her blog readers for help. I really enjoyed the thought of that, and read the description with amusement. I really liked how she addressed the readers, like you usually see more in a middle grade novel than in the young adult genres, and the story seemed simple, good for a summer read. It seemed like it would be filled with laughs and tears and tenderness.
So I read it, thoroughly enjoying every word. She just wanted so desperately to take control of her life and stop being influenced to make bad decisions. She thought it was an ailment she had and would suffer all her life, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Being a girl, who does make bad decisions sometimes, can be tough. Nobody’s perfect. Somebody will always say the wrong thing; do the wrong thing; make a bad decision in the heat of the moment. So I pondered the idea of a girl just letting somebody else take control.
Although she did let somebody else take control of her life for a little while, Brooklyn is a very strong character. She would be stubborn, and headstrong, but also very sweet at the same time. Some people may not like her because she was very realistic. Most girls would never walk away from the bad decisions that she made (at least, other than the one at the beginning).
All she really wanted was to fit in. Her friend had been good friends with her for years. After Brooklyn made a really bad decision influenced by her, she ditched her because she had never gotten caught. It was only than that Brooklyn realized something that had been plaguing her, and many girls throughout literature and in reality.
You never really realize what you’re doing to somebody until you have it happen to you. Many girls watch their friends exclude somebody, or talk nastily about somebody, and have it come back to haunt them when they make a wrong choice, or the circumstances change. Many teenage magazines have addressed this, and books have. For example, like Brooklyn, Zoey from Marked had her friendship with Kayla end in a very similar way: dumped when she changed.
I liked how it was addressed in this book; it was honest, and wonderfully dealt with. The characters were good. Some of them advanced the plot along quite a bit in various, more subtle ways than most characters in other books did. Their subtlty was great for the story because it didn’t make it horribly dramatic.
And in it’s subtle manner, the novel smartly set up an interesting premise and shocking moments in some scenes.
I loved how it didn’t focus completely on friends or love, but mostly on Brooklyn’s self, without being obnoxious or self-absorbed. It was more like a reflection on her past and what she wanted to do with her future. It dwelled on her confusion and fear of making the wrong decisions, and twisted it into a humorous story that is sure to delight girls across the nation.
I enjoyed hearing about her stressing about blog publicity and her visitors because, having recently started mine a few months ago, I had (and am still) experiencing the same emotions. I also relished her blog getting popular because I was living slightly vicarously through her (and still am wondering what it must be like for your blog to be that popular!)
Her love experiences were lovely. I thoroughly preferred how she talked about them almost as if they were friends, but also with some love woven through her narrations. Most novels have it where the hero and heroine instantly know they’re meant for each other. While it’s great to read about, the friendship/crush approach was more relatable.
The main love interests were both similar and contrasting on different points. Some times, they seemed almost exactly alike and at others, they were completely different. It was fascinating, really. I liked both of them, and enjoyed how different plot points worked in their favor, leading the plot in winding paths in different directions, while still keeping it somewhat focused.
One boy was the sexy, knock-em-dead character who was charming and all the girls fawned over him. This was the usual love triangle material, and I loved the description of him. His actions added so well to the image that I had in my head. Inviting Brooklyn to his dad’s club, flirting with her, being nice.
Then there’s boy #2. The sweet one. The one who’s dorky, loves debate team, but would do anything for her. He seems to be nothing more than a friend who wants to be something more. Everybody loves him and roots for him until the end. He may not be as charismatic or sexy, but she could count on him the entire way through to be there for her.
I honestly didn’t know which one I wanted to win. I didn’t know which one I wanted her to choose because they both seemed perfect for her. It’s when I feel that confusion that I know that the book had a good love triangle. Hence, the origin of “team”s in popular novels.
I loved the Choose-Your-Story element. I used to read them sometimes when I was younger and had forgotten about them until recently. They’re bound to make nostalgic feelings and old memories surface from girls reading this book. I loved the angle because nobody really ever talks about young bloggers in novels, much less Choose-Your-Adventure books when it’s not one of those itself.
Overall, I thought that My Life Undecided was adorable, sweet, funny, and well-written, which made it a truly great contemporary read. This is highly recommended.
Recommended for anybody who loves: Little Blog on the Prairie; Sometimes It Happens; Gimme a Call; crossovers from MG to YA; bloggers; romance; etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Do you think that the Baby Brooklyn incident was an example of her bad decisions or just coincidence? Based on what you read, support your answer with examples.
Do you think that her bad decisions were due to the emphasis of her friends?
Do you agree with her parent’s strict rules?
How do you think fame affected her childhood? Compare with other famous children with similar incidents.
Her sister made a bad decision while under pressure from school. How does pressure change your decisions?
Do you think that the pressure to be popular influenced Brooklyn’s decisions?
Is there any decisions of yours that you wish you could’ve had somebody else decide?