Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
Came out: June 7, 2011
Source: Kristi (The Story Siren)
Age Group: Young Adult
Buy It On Amazon:Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Recommended to Ages
14 and Up
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) was a book that I had been lusting over for quite some time.It told the story of a girl who is devastated by the fact that her parents were moving in the middle of the year. She couldn't just leave her boyfriend, her friends, and her school in the middle of the year. She is heartbroken and almost flat-out refuses to make the move before at least finishing out her year.It all started with a lie. When her friend Vi says that April could stay with her, she latched on to the one opportunity that she had to be able to stay. Unfortunately, April knows that her dad would never let her do it. So, she lies and says that Vi's mom will be supervising them the entire time.Then the entire thing snowballs. April is overwhelmed with a sudden sense of freedom: she can have her boyfriend stay over, they can throw parties, they can do whatever they want! She's also overwhelmed with sudden responsibility. She gets to pay for groceries, do her own laundry, and make sure that she has everything paid for and takes care of herself! With nobody reminding her, she has to get her act together.In this heartwarming and slightly raw book, Sarah Mlynowski crafts a great story about what it means to have the freedom that you've always wanted and the troubles that come with it.May I just start out by saying that I love it when the first scene of a book puts you right in the action. In this one, it was showing April panicking and trying to pick up the pieces of her life before her decisions caught up with her. It details something incredibly dramatic and foreshadows a bit as to what comes next.After that, was a little slow to start, but then the lies really started happening and the momentum picked up extremely quickly. The beginning was calmer, and towards the middle it got more fast-paced, deeper, and more dramatic.I really enjoyed April because she was...normal. She wasn't overly quirky or strange or even very flawed. It was actually kind of refreshing and not boring at all. Her point of view on things was very straightforward. She made good decisions and bad, but that's just the way that the world works.I liked Noah because he was the "perfect" boyfriend. Charming, sweet, and not alienating anybody or mean to anybody. He was what every girl wants. He was even handsome (at least, that's what I got from reading it). He was the perfect guy for April, but even their relationship changed as we got deeper into the story.Vi was almost like the stereotypical "artsy" best friend who's dramatic, witty, daring, and cool. In other words, she was that best friend that always pops up in books and isn't afraid to speak her mind. She's usually found making a film, drawing, or doing something that's slightly weird. And I loved that because although it was a stereotypical personality, Vi was so wonderful to read about! Her personality leapt off the page and she was always willing to support April!I must say that it was different than Sarah Mlynowski's usual work. Gimme A Call and her Magic in Manhattan series was bubblier, and sweeter. The reason I called this "slightly raw" because it was a different point of view. Harsher things happened; it wasn't the sweet little world that I usually thought of when reading her books. They're funny and nice, but they didn't have straight edge like this one did.There was more extreme drama, consequences, deeper character insight, and it wasn't as happy-go-lucky. I couldn't decide how I felt about that; I love her books, but I liked both standpoints. I'm still undecided about the drama.I really enjoyed the love triangle as well. Both boys were definitely crush-worthy, and different facts were revealed about both of them. Just as I fell in love with one, something happened to make me fall in love with the other. It was a lovely, vicious cycle that made me feel satisfied.This book was more character-driven. It was more about how the decisions AFFECTED the characters. I liked that; it was a change of pace.It reminded me a bit of when my sister went off to college. Not the crazy decisions, but the sudden responsibility. The first time that she went up to college (last year...this year she's a sophmore) we had to help her buy groceries, navigate around, set up her room, and find her way around campus. My parents discussed budget before they left (like with April) but Darby was panicking a bit (don't tell her that I said that).On that day, I was propelled into realization about what you really had to pay for. I'm only thirteen; I don't have to worry about things like that yet. But reading about April's responsibilities and seeing my sister in college made me think about it.The writing was still adorable, as always with Sarah Mlynowski. Bubbly and engaging, she had me hanging onto every word.To be honest, the title sounded like it was going to be quirkier (ex: "Harbored a Fugitive") and I was expecting more of the crazier things that she introduced us to in Bras and Broomsticks and the rest of her Magic in Manhattan series. I was expecting it to be slightly funnier and crazier.However, there was more than enough drama to make up for the lack of comedy sprinkled throughout the book.I really enjoyed her approach to the different subjects broached in the book. Through it, we actually got to see April mature and start to make smarter decisions. She started to learn from her mistakes, which was a high point for me because I really love it when characters change for the better.I think that teens who are going to college soon will enjoy it because they will appreciate the sneak peak of living alone and balancing responsibilities not foisted on them before. They might also learn from April's mistakes and learn how to not make the same mistakes. Plus, it's just an awesome book!Overall, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) was dramatic, witty, and fresh. It was very enjoyable and I recommend it to anybody, especially teens preparing for college.
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Some parents may get the wrong idea while looking at both the cover and the title of the book. Granted, Sarah Mlynowski's previous books were tamer and more MG-oriented than this one was, but it wasn't as inappropriate as perhaps the title and cover would suggest. Most of the "ten things" were altogether harmless, such as "Buying a Hot Tub" and "Harboring a Fugitive" and really didn't add anything bad to the book.
However, some of the "ten things" (by this I mean maybe two or three) were inappropriate. In one, April loses her virginity but she does learn how to make better decisions towards the end of the book.
Overall, I'd say that the only things that you would need to worry about if considering buying this for your child would be sex and mild substances.
Normally, I would say 15 and up, but I think that most fourteen year olds are mature enough to handle this.
Keep in mind that although some bad things happen, the characters all learn from their mistakes and alter their courses. April gets back on track and the consequences are not downplayed. They all regret bad decisions and do what they can to make things right. Friends and family help each other through it and parents are all eventually told by the teenagers themselves and they are appropriately punished and taken care of.
Overall, I think that Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) was a great book and, although it may be inappropriate at some parts, is appropriate for a mature teen to read.
Book Club Questions
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Imagine you have (or if you have) a daughter, would you consider letting her stay on her own?How have fake emails and profiles gotten people into trouble with the law? How is it helpful in anonymity?Do you think that April's experience is similar to college?How do you think Sarah Mlynowski's writing style changed in this book? Which type - comedy or drama - do you think she is more suited for?What are ten things that you have done and probably shouldn't have? Compare your experiences to April's.Do you think that having a house to run and monitor yourself gave April more freedom or restriction in the end?How are some bad choices turned around?How do you think that April's dad reacted?