Libby Brin is the Queen of Cool. She has the cool friends, the cool clothes, the cool attitude, the cool everything. If she tapes pencils to the front of her shirt before homeroom, at the end of the day everyone else will have have done the same.
She's been feeling a little weird lately, though she hasn't quite figured out exactly why.
I wake up on Monday morning, and my bedroom is the same, and the view outside the window is the same, and the smell of breakfast coming up from down the hall is the same. Only I feel different.
At lunchtime, in the pavilion, I sit at the usual table, and I am eating the same lunch I have every day (fat-free, sugar-free yogurt and a Diet Coke), while everyone else is talking over one another.
They are all talking. And nobody is listening.
That very same day, she does something very out of character. She signs up for an internship at the least-cool place on earth -- the Los Angeles Zoo. Suddenly, she's not spending all her time with the beautiful and hip -- she's spending a whole lot of it with the acne-prone and tragically unhip.
And she isn't hating it.
Okay, it's official. I'm ready and willing to join the Cult of Castellucci. Her books just RULE. My library doesn't have them*, so I ordered them for myself -- partly because I want them to read and re-read, and partly because I want to have them on hand to lend out to trusted friends.
The stories (or, at least the stories in Boy Proof and Queen of Cool**) are familiar. We've all come across the teen-finds-herself-and-grows-as-a-person book and the teen-broadens-her-horizons-and-grows as-a-person book. It's CC's telling of them that's special. Her characters are great, yes, and her voices, but even more than that, it feels like Cecil Castellucci has a real respect for her readers. She doesn't feel the need to spell everything out. She gives us the numbers and lets us do the math. Love it. Hooray.
Oh, AND. I ESPECIALLY loved it that Libby's transformation took TIME. She doesn't work a day at the zoo and all of a sudden miraculously appreciate Tina and Sheldon and the others (including Sid, who I loved). It was a slow process, and I got the feeling that Libby was aware it was happening, though A) she didn't want to admit it was happening and B) she fought it. All that complexity and yet, light enough for beach reading. Way impressive.
*I asked the YA librarian to order them all today.
**I haven't read Beige yet, though I have the ARC at home. And before Chrissy drives up here and stabs me with a fork, yes, I will hold my write-up back until we're a bit closer to the pub date.