If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that he carefully constructed world just might be falling apart…one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.
Ten Things We Did looks and sounds like a light-hearted, fun, easy read. It promises to appeal to fans of authors like Susane Colasanti, Sarah Dessen, and Lauren Myracle. But Sarah Mlynowski doesn’t quite deliver on that promise. Ten Things is a light, fun read, but the plot and characters are unrealistic. When April’s dad decides to move to Cleveland, she opts to move in with her friend Vi rather than uproot herself. Only thing is, April’s dad would freak if he found out Vi’s mom won’t be staying with them, leaving the two teenagers alone in Vi’s spacious home. To placate April’s dad, the girls provide him with a fake email address and Vi dutifully responds to all his emails as if she were her mom.
As if this scenario weren’t crazy enough, the ridiculous situations the girls continuously get themselves into drive this story over the top. While it tries to be charming and endearing, it’s hard to forget just how improbable all of it is. As a main character, April is kind of forgettable. Vi is much more interesting, but she’s also the proponent of this whole scheme and I kind of hold that against her. My favorite characters are brothers Dean and Hudson, but they don’t appear enough to really satisfy me.
I will say Ten Things explores some real teen issues and deals with them in a relatable, believable way, specifically issues surrounding relationships, sex, infidelity, conforming, and friendship. Some conversations are reminiscent of conversations every girl has had with or can imagining have with a friend. And if you can suspend your disbelief for a little while, the craziness that is April’s life can even be funny. You’ll wistfully imagine your own life parent- and rule-free for a few minutes. Then you’ll get to the end and realize you don’t want to have the conversation that April’s about to have with her dad.
If you’re looking for a light, quick read, then Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) will probably satisfy you. If you want something with a little more substance, I’d suggest you keep looking.
Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating [rating: 2.5]
Teaser Quote: “I wasn’t sure how to process this information. Vi had lied to everyone. Vi—strong, confident Vi—had felt the need to pretend to be something she wasn’t. Why did she care so much what other people thought?”