By: Kerry Winfrey
Review by: Ivy
Jolie has a scrapbook of beautiful women. You name a pretty lady from this decade, and her face is most likely posted on one of Jolie’s detailed pages. It’s a diverse list, covering all colors, heights, and weights. The only thing the celebrities have in common is that they don’t have mandibular prognathism like Jolie does.
Calm down, no, MP isn’t some life-threatening disease. The only real outside affect it has on Jolie is her underbite, which results in difficulty chewing and speaking for long periods of time. More than anything, Jolie wants to look like the ladies in her scrapbook. She thinks being pretty will make everything easier. So, when her doctor mentions a surgery that will fix Jolie’s jaw, she enthusiastically signs up.
But, as the date of her procedure looms ever closer, Jolie wonders about the dangers of her surgery. While her doctor will be happily breaking and squishing her bones back together, Jolie could possibly never wake back up to enjoy her fresh face.
In a fit of anxiety, she and her friends make a list of everything she wants to be before she (potentially) bites it. On the list include such staples as kissing her crush, going cliff jumping, and eating all of the appetizers at Applebee’s. Once family and friend drama gets in the way of completing her list, Jolie has to decide what’s more important: turning her life upside down before a probably safe procedure, or gritting her teeth (heh) and helping the people she loves get through their hard times?
By far, the strongest part of Things is the characters. First and foremost we have Jolie, the steadfast and reliable smart girl pushed into the spotlight by her best friends, Evelyn and Derek. Evelyn is a fashion-obsessed entrepreneur obviously going places and no longer content with slogging through high school and living under her mother’s strict rule. And then there’s Derek, the handsome but shy boy best friend who, since his dad died, loves nothing more than watching bad movies and recording episodes of his podcast alone in his closet.
(Real quick: Dear Adult Authors, I don’t know where you got the idea that teens watch bad movies for fun. I don’t even have access to the typical literary adolescent’s endless supply of junk films from before they were born. Why is this such a common character detail? It’s always like, “John and I were always good buds, but what really brought us together was watching crappily shot black and white movies in his parent’s basement.” WHAT? WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY COOL TEENS DO THIS? WE DON’T. I DON’T KNOW A SINGLE ONE- Anyways, I love you anyway Adult Authors, thanks for your time.)
I love this twist on the “girl with a disease” trope (looks at John Green). Yes, this girl has a medical condition, but she’s not going to die. But, just to be safe she’s going to make a bucket list and go on adventures with her friends anyway. Things was light and playful, while also making a powerful statement about how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we should treat each other in awareness of that. Perfect for fans of aforementioned John Green and basically anyone who wants to know what the best of YA this year is, Things will make you laugh and make you think while you learn to love yourself inside and out.