I requested a review copy of The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher simply because the author is from Delaware and the novel is set here as well, a rarity given that I live in the second-smallest state in the US (such is the low profile of our tiny state that one reviewer on Amazon incorrectly stated that this book takes place in Maryland - we are here, guys, right next door!) I didn’t have many expectations for the book, but I was pleasantly surprised – I ended up loving this unique, realistic novel for teens.
Sixteen-year old Adrienne Haus knows this will be the worst summer ever. Because of a serious knee injury, she is left at home while her best friend (well, her only friend) goes off to camp without her. To make matters worse, her mother came up with the brilliant idea to have a mother-daughter summer book club, to help Adrienne and a few of her classmates do their required reading and get ready for their AP English class in the fall.
It is a disparate group of girls thrown together in this involuntary book club; the only thing they have in common is that none of them (except Wallis) wants to be in it, as explained on the back cover:
“…But we weren’t friends. We were not a sisterhood, and we didn’t share any pants. We were literary prisoners, sweating and reading classics and hanging out at the pool. But, of course, that’s not the whole story. “
The book is written as Adrienne’s summer AP English assignment, with different chapters addressing not only the books read but what happened to the girls in between. I just loved the unique approach, and the fact that the novel is not at all what you would expect. The girls don’t fit easily into stereotypes and they don't all become best friends or learn to love literature. The characters feel like real people, with plenty of real problems that are not easily solved. Their summer reading parallels the course of everything else they go through that summer, and the girls grow and learn a lot about themselves and each other. In fact, the book inspired me; I would like to read some of the books the girls in the novel read during their unbearable summer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and look forward to reading more from Schumacher.