Author: Robin Mellom
Genre: Contemporary YA
Published on: January 10, 2012
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge, Completely Contemp Challenge
Summary: High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.
Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.
And then ditched her.
Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag’s moving car…
But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.
You know how sometimes you’ll read a book that was hilarious and fun and entertaining, and when you get to the end and are organizing your thoughts you realize that there actually isn’t much to SAY about the book you just read aside from the fact that it was…hilarious and fun and entertaining? Maybe also that you can’t wait to read more from the author because you SO loved her style and humor and characters? And probably that it left you with this giddy afterglow from cute, teenage love connection that gave you butterflies? That’s pretty much DITCHED for me. No, there isn’t really anything deep or ponderous about this debut by Robin Mellom, but you know what? I hope you guys don’t read that and think, “oh, well, she must have not liked it.” FALSE. I LOVED it. Because when cute, funny contemporary YA is done really well, it serves a different purpose, I believe, than to make people think. It’s a little spot of happiness in your day, and it’s a breath of fresh, funny air; a respite from all of the life-and-death serious that I know is in a lot of our TBR piles. A story like DITCHED is ALWAYS welcome, and trust me, it was sweet and swoony and hilarious and full of miscommunications and the two main characters always just missing each other. I “AWWED” a bunch of times. And laughed out loud, too.
Poor Justina, though. Our girl goes through the ringer on her prom night, physically and emotionally. In fact, the story of her prom is told through flashbacks while Justina recounts her horrid night to some random but awesome ladies at a gas station convenience store the morning after by describing how she got each stain on her dress (she’s still wearing it). I kind of loved, actually, that the prom can be summed up by all the various stains on Justina’s dress (which, even in my e-ARC, I could tell was horrible. The PUFFY SLEEVES!! Thanks, Justina’s mom, for the 80s flashback!). It’s perfectly clever and it set the tone for the story. Which is basically this: Justina LOVES kissing boys. She used to do A LOT. Some of the other kids slapped her with a label (you can guess what it is). BUT. She’s imposed a ban on kissing until she can lock lips with her bff, Ian, who she wants to be more with, and she thinks he wants to be more, too. Enter prom, and a series of disasters and miscues and near misses and miscommunications, et voila! DITCHED, in all it’s wonderful, snarky, endearing glory.
I loved lots of things about DITCHED, but probably the thing that gave me the best tingly feeling was Ian and Justina. Guys, they’re ADORABLE, with their friendly, flirty banter. You can tell that they BOTH want to go there, but are just waiting for the right time. And they know each other so well. It was so stinkin’ cute when Ian would remember to have little snacks around for Justina because she gets nasty when her blood sugar gets low. AND GUYS? I can’t remember ever reading about a guy like this in YA: He didn’t get squeamish when she had her period. (Forget YA. I don’t know many guys like this IN REAL LIFE.) In fact, HE GOT AWESOMER because he would bring her licorice and Motrin. Really, he was the sweetest guy. I was crushing on him in that, “I’m too old for you, but I want you to be my fake YA boyfriend because I would have been IN LOVE with you in high school” kind of way.
Another thing that made DITCHED so fun was the humor. Justina had her moments, in between overreacting to things and trying to force things into following her very specific plan of Operation Lips Unlocked. The Mikes, her two stoner friends, were hilarious (related to this, I was surprised but glad that Robin went there with the pot-smoking. She talked about it openly, used the lingo, sent some of the characters to a head shop. Ten points for keeping it real.) The two ladies at the gas station are also wonderful. Gilda is kind and perceptive, and Donna. *chuckles* O.M.God, Donna Kramer was hysterical. Observe:
“I have some long, complicated stories. But it’s not such a bad thing–it’s because of those stories that I can proudly say I am the cougar I am today. Look it up–cougar–in the wiki encyclopedia.”
“Wikipedia,” I corrected her.
She nods. “You’ve seen me, then.”
I loved Donna Kramer.
DITCHED was a really great, sweet and funny book. It had wonderfully drawn characters who made me laugh and swoon. The friendship between Ian and Justina that teetered on the line between “just friends” and something more was perfect, even if the ending was really no surprise at all. No matter. It was still a wonderfully sweet, fun story that gave me the happy tingles from start to finish. Yay!