Review: Awkward by Marni Bates


Title: Awkward

Author: Marni Bates

Publisher: KTEEN

ISBN: 978-0758269379


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Mackenzie Wellesley has spent her life avoiding the spotlight. At Smith High, she’s the awkward junior people only notice when they need help with homework. Until she sends a burly football player flying with her massive backpack and makes a disastrous – not to mention unwelcome – attempt at CPR. Before the day is out, the whole fiasco explodes on YouTube. And then the strangest thing happens. Suddenly, Mackenzie is an Internet sensation, with four million hits and counting. Sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes, she even catches the eye of the most popular guy at school. And that’s when life gets really interesting…


When I first picked up Awkward, I wasn’t sure if the book was  for me.  I have to admit that the first two chapters didn’t totally captive me, and the story started off feeling too familiar to me.  That impression lasted only lasted about 30 pages, and before I was even aware of it, I was completely engaged in Mackenzie’s train wreck of a life.  Awkward in her own skin, she tries to blend into the background, uncomfortable being the center of attention.  She wants to be invisible, because being in the spotlight is mortifying for her.  She just wants to do her time in high school, get good grades, and score a lucrative scholarship for a prestigious college. 

Enter the most embarrassing moment of her life;  in a show of epic clumsiness, she knocks over a football player and, believing that she killed him, freaks out.  Her disastrous attempt to perform CPR goes awry, and worse, she discovers that someone filmed her in her spazzed out glory and uploaded the video on YouTube.  Before she can even catch her breath, Mackenzie has gone viral, and all of the attention she has been trying to avoid lands on her doorstep.  There is no getting away from the embarrassing video.  The paparazzi stalk her, reports call for interviews, and a rock band uses clips of her freak out in their new music video.  Mackenzie begins to despair that her life will never get back to normal.  Then, she starts questioning if she even wants it to.

I loved this book.  It’s humorous, but it also has a lot of heart.  The relationship between Mackenzie and her family is so touching.  Her father dumped them years ago for a new family, and due to an unfortunate incident at a ballet recital, Mackenzie blames herself for the ruination of her parents’ marriage.  She is leery of putting her out there, still stinging from her father’s abandonment.  Even though she bickers constantly with her younger brother, who feels that she is a complete embarrassment to the human race, there is a deep connection between them.  The relationships between her brother and her mother felt real and I loved how they interacted with each other.

I also loved Mackenzie.  She’s smart and witty, and a loyal friend as well.  With her life skittering out of control, she needs her friends more than ever.  As she begins to develop a sense of self, she begins to open up.  It was gratifying to see her mature and blossom as the story unfolded.  She puts up with a lot crap from the popular kids at school, so it only seemed right when her star began to eclipse theirs.  The video and the attempt to completely embarrass her backfires, and before she can blink, Mackenzie is a celebrity.  Suddenly, being on the periphery of life is no longer good enough for her.  Mackenzie wants to be popular, and as her video continues to make the rounds, she learns to laugh at herself and reach out with both hands to grab what she wants.  I wanted her to accomplish every single crazy dream she harbored, and with the help of her friends, that’s exactly what she does.

Awkward is a fun contemporary with great characters, humor, and tons of drama, too.  I can hardly wait to see what Marni Bates comes up with next.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by {teen} Book Scene


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