Lexi's always been the pretty one. Not just pretty, actually: beautiful. So beautiful that people stop her on the street to compliment her. So beautiful that a photographer paused a fashion shoot on a New York sidewalk in order to give her mother his card and make an appointment for Lexi to come in for professional headshots.
But then, after a party the summer before her first year in high school, everything changes when her face goes through a windshield:
But this was different. I wasn't saying the words for effect; I meant them. Because when you're fifteen years old and you're lying in a hospital bed listening to things like "multiple facial fractures" and "reconstructive surgery," there is only one coherent thought in your mind: my life is over.
None of that even touches on her reasons for being in the car—or, for that matter, what happened to her while she was IN the car—a huge, huge betrayal by her best friend and her boyfriend.
OH MY GOD I'M SO GLAD I WILL NEVER BE A TEENAGER AGAIN. In addition to the storyline about Lexi's face (she has to get a butt-to-face skin graft, so you can imagine the angst involved there, even though NO ONE BUT HER FAMILY KNOWS), there's the friend/boyfriend stuff, the regular high school stuff (jackass boys who she overhears talking about how they'd bone* her if she wore a bag over her head, etc.), and her issues with her mother and her sister.
The thing is, even though My Life in Black and White made me very, very grateful that I never have to re-visit those years, and even though Lexi is almost constantly massively self-absorbed, I still liked her. And even if the differences in our maturity levels kept me from identifying with her, I still felt for her. Even at her most obnoxious: because even at her most obnoxious, her voice rings true. She's always honest, even when that honesty paints her as unattractive or hypocritical.
Kudos to Natasha Friend for the best friend storyline, too: Lexi is angry with Taylor for hooking up with her boyfriend, but it's about the betrayal more than anything else. She doesn't stoop to slut-shaming—even when her mother does—and even more impressive, when Lexi has an opportunity to stand back and let Taylor's own choices result in what some might term 'just desserts', she does the stand-up thing. It's quite satisfying, and again, rings true.
It's also satisfying that there are no real villains among the main and secondary cast members—many of them, including Lexi's boyfriend, Taylor, and Taylor's brother—do some epically horrid things, but none of them ever really act out of malice. (Not that that's an excuse, but it's nice that here, as in real life, moustache-twirlers are few and far between.)
Also: a Deenie reference! Boxing! And an awesome older sister.
*The verb 'bone' made its way into my vocabulary earlier this year. Seriously, you can't be as horrified as I am.
Book source: ILLed through my library. This book was read for the 2012 Cybils season.