Siobhan Vivian is cool if for one reason only: She's got two first names. I'm always envious of people who have a first name for a last name (such as Michael Thomas or Jennifer Taylor) because I have a last name for a first name (Carlisle Webber). Besides that, she's from Rutherford, and their library is a member of BCCLS. I want to thank Siobhan for having her publicist at Scholastic send me a copy of her book A Little Friendly Advice, because I enjoyed it.
The plot: Ruby is NOT having a great week. Sure, it's her sixteenth birthday and she gets to spend it with her closest friends and her mom gives her an amazing present (a Polaroid camera), but in the middle of her party her long-absent dad shows up. Ruby's not interested in hearing what her dad has to say. After all, he's the reason she and her mom had to move and her life's not been the same since. The one person Ruby is sure she can confide in is her best friend Beth...until she finds Beth's been hiding a letter Ruby's dad wrote to her, telling her he'll be in town for the week. How could Beth betray Ruby like that? Does Ruby even want to see her dad? To further complicate things, Ruby's falling for the very cool Charlie, an aspiring photographer who's a recent transplant to Akron, Ohio, from Pittsburgh. This has either got to be the best time for Ruby to get a boyfriend...or the worst. As the week goes on, Ruby does a 180 on her friendship with Beth and the way she feels about her father.
Why you'll love it: Regardless of how you feel about Stephen King's books, you have to love his part-memoir, part-instruction book On Writing. In it, he talks about plot vs. character, nothing that our lives are largely shaped by people rather than events. What Vivian has done is shaped an event around people, bringing us a great cast of characters with a lot of heart. She's really captured the way that time seems to pass so slowly when you're a teen, and how much can happen in a week of school, friends, and parties. Ruby and her friends could be found at any high school in America. They love each other, they fight, they make up, they include, they exclude, everything. As an added bonus, the book takes place in the Midwest, and we all know how I feel about that. This is a great next read for fans of what I like to call smart-chickbooks: Sarah Zarr, Justina Chen Headley, Laurie Halse Anderson, etc.