About the Book:
Ellie Stanton by Aurora Zahni
Genres: YA Contemporary
Published January 14th, 2014
Publisher: Beau Coup Publishing
Book 1 in the Heller Park Series focuses on Ellie Stanton. An imperfect, unremarkable girl makes a hero’s journey. Ellie Stanton needed to have a good day. The universe had something else in store. Getting caught shoplifting. Check. Dumping her lame boyfriend. Check. Expulsion from school. Check. Getting kicked out of her house and then stealing her mother’s car while she’s in a New Jersey turnpike rest stop Cinnabon? Check. The only sensible option is to run as fast as she can and never look back. Now Ellie is running going cross country to raise a little hell and maybe along the way learn everything she needs to know about life.
About the Author:
Aurora Zahni is a former rebel who’s trying to bring a little bit of Judy Blume and Sylvia Plath to the Twilight Generation. Over the years she7092273 has given half-assed / full throttle contributions to numerous zines and blogs, written a web movie and done significantly well in countless competitive eating events.
When she was in the 8th grade she was on the local evening news. A dead body was being lifted out of the water at a marina by the Meadowlands and you could clearly see her standing in the background watching, looking a bit excited for the camera. Looking back it may have been the highlight of her entire childhood.
“Ellie, can you answer me one question?”
“Yes, Hilary. Your uniform makes you look like a brown Power Ranger.”
Hilary rolled her eyes all the way back and gave Ellie a “ha ha ha” through clenched teeth. A couple wearing matching tracksuits walked in and Hil gave them menus before returning her attention to Ellie.
“Eleanor, I’m being serious. Answer me one question and I won’t give you any more crap about school. Deal?”
Ellie pointed at Hilary. “Shoot, Megazord.”
“Why, oh why do you have to turn every confrontation with an authority figure into World War Four?”
“Wait, you want to know, essentially, why I can’t deal?” Hilary nodded emphatically, and Ellie continued. “Oh, that’s easy peezy. We can all thank Mrs. Richards.”
“Who the hell is Mrs. Richards?” Hilary asked.
“My kindergarten teacher. I will never forgive or forget that bitch.”
“Why? What did she do?”
“I’m glad you asked. See, the first day of school, Mrs. Richards gave us a note to give to our parents, letting them know that parents were responsible for their own kid’s snacks and drinks.” A security guard and two Chickentown employees joined the audience. “So, Tammy, that’s my mom’s name for those who are new to the show here, she reads the first part of the note but not the second. That would be the part which gives examples of what appropriate healthy snacks and drinks are recommended. The word ‘healthy’ was underlined and in bold print. You can see where this is going, right?” She motioned toward Hilary, who smiled and nodded. “So Mommy Dearest stops off at Quick Chek on the way to school and grabs me a Mountain Dew and Twinkies.”
There was a collective groan from the peanut gallery. Hilary used the pause in the story to take some orders before allowing Ellie to go on.
“Anyway, snack time rolls around, I open my Lion King lunch box and start digging in. Bitch Richards sees my Twinkies and comes flying at me like a hawk. She screams at me, throws away my Twinkies, and then walks me around the room pointing out examples of healthy snacks.”
“You’re kidding me.” Hilary laughed, picturing little Ellie being tortured by this teacher.
“I would not kid you about snacks. It was like five full minutes of ‘See, Ellie, that’s a banana. Bananas are an example of a healthy snack.’ Finally I snapped.”
“What did you do?”
“I cried and smashed my lunch box against the chalkboard. When Mrs. Richards said she was calling my mom, I called her a big green bitch.”
The entire congregation in the restaurant giggled at once.
“Why is that so funny? What the hell does that even mean?”
“I dunno. She was standing next to a Statue of Liberty poster. It didn’t make sense, but it was very effective as an insult. That was the first class I was ever kicked out of, and I’ve been a pain in the collective ass of the world ever since.”
Hehe. World ass. That’s funny.
Oh man, this book is something else! I think the best way to describe Ellie and her story would be maybe modern day Holden Caulfield-ish, or someone equally jaded. And no wonder she’s that way. She’s not particularly wealthy, her mother is despicable, and she feels pretty much above everyone else. And so when she gets kicked out of her house, she takes off on a grand roadtrip adventure where she ends up learning a lot more about herself than she ever could’ve dreamed.
My feelings are kind of mixed about this one, honestly. Half of the time I felt myself empathizing with Ellie, cause she’s just so darn sarcastic and just done with everything. She’s funny, smart, and kind of an asshole. And her obsession with MadLibs was absolutely hilarious, because I remember absolutely loving those things when I was younger. Oh my gosh, the words she comes up with! She’s got a good sense of humor too, I’ll give her that. But then the thing was, the other half of the time I felt like she almost crossed the line into being TOO much of a smartass and TOO jaded. Which, I get it, those characters are totally realistic because tons of people are really like that. Hell, I’m like that a good chunk of the time! But the issue I had was that sometimes, those aren’t the types of minds you want to live in for a whole book. One example is near the beginning, when she describes one of her teachers that she doesn’t get along with very well, and then follows a short scene with Ellie being a jerk to the teacher and getting sent to the principals office. Which, fine, that happens! But the teacher didn’t actually do anything wrong in this particular instance, other than to ask Ellie politely the first time to stop doing MadLibs in the middle of class, which I don’t think is terribly unreasonable? I’m not sure, maybe it’s because I was an education major up until a few months ago, but I felt like some of the people in this book deserved a little more respect than Ellie gave them, and it rubbed me the wrong way at times.
But other than Ellie, I really did like the side characters! Hilary was probably the best friend that a person could have, and I loved reading about all of their banter and witty conversations. You could definitely feel the girl-love between Hilary and Ellie, which was refreshing considering that Ellie wasn’t really too keen on anyone else. Like her ex-boyfriend, Brett. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Brett, and all of the other Bretts in the world. He was a sweet guy and clearly cared about Ellie a lot, but she pretty much treated him like dirt for most of the book. It just made me so darn sad to think about him slaving over his poetry for a girl that couldn’t care less!
The plot itself was really fun, though, which was a definite plus! I love roadtrip adventure stories, and this one didn’t disappoint. Ellie was definitely pretty gutsy and did what so many people fantasize about doing their whole lives. She actually ran away! I enjoyed reading about her adventures and crazy encounters along her journey, and while I’m not sure how much I agree with all of her choices, you have to give her props for being so ballsy.
All in all, while I did enjoy this book a lot, the only downside was my uncertainty about Ellie. I couldn’t decide whether I loved her or hated her, which put a bit of a damper on my reading. Still, I’m sure that she will totally appeal to plenty of teenagers out there who are put in sucky situations and have to learn to make the most out of it, with lots of sass and sarcasm. I definitely encourage anyone who’s a fan of contemporary or roadtrip stories to check it out!
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Just One More Chapter – Review
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Shayna Varadeaux Books & Reviews – Review
Book Hostage – Interview
Bella Harte Books– Excerpt
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review
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Once Upon a Twilight – Review
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I Feel the Need, the Need to Read – Review
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The Book Tower – Interview
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