Just Another Girl
by Melody Carlson
Aster Flynn is stuck. She has to spend all of her “free” time with her younger sister, Lily, who, though fifteen, is mentally handicapped. At age seventeen, Aster should be hanging out with friends, dating boys, and working at a fun job. But her dad’s MIA, her mom is always at work, and her older sister Rose is too self-centered to give her any help. It’s not that Aster doesn’t love Lily—it’s just that for once she’d like to be able to be a normal teenager.
So when a cute popular guy seems to take an interest in her, Aster hatches a plan. Somehow she has to get her workaholic mom and deadbeat dad to be the parents Lily needs so that Aster can have a life of her own. But can she ever get her parents to start acting like adults? Is this new guy worth the trouble? And, most importantly, will Lily get hurt in the process?
I was having my monthly book shopping in the mall when I came across this book. What enthralled me into buying this book was its title, Just Another Girl, because I thought it was a romance novel. Doesn’t it sound like a romance novel? What’s more was that the cover was pretty effortless and simple, yet captivating. And the synopsis seemed pretty decent (above, in italics), don’t you think? All of these factors seemed enough for me, so I bought it.
So like the title, Just Another Girl, is this book just another book, too?
The answer is no—at least, from every book I’ve ever read. While this book takes on teenage romance and family problems, it adds God into the scenario—something I do not always and freely read from teen fiction.
Aster Flynn is pretty much a modern day Cinderella—without the evil step-mom and stepsisters. Instead, she has Rose, the older sister who only cares about herself, her mom, who is mostly absent, and Lily, her mentally challenged younger sister.
And Melody Carlson definitely took the risk of adding a mentally handicapped character. I love Lily! Even though she’s mentally retarded and, let’s admit it, annoying, she can be a very loving sister to Aster. And while I love Lily, I hate Owen. He’s such a jerk. Forget him being hot and all. He’s an egotistic jerk who doesn’t care about anything but his pretty face and his rubbish reputation. I know those so-called jerks are supposed to be hot and scream-worthy, but Owen? Forget it, because while Conrad Fisher (Summer Series) was a jerk and didn’t talk to Belly (Summer Series) for a while, he never did sour-grape about their relationship and call Belly’s brother ‘retarded’. That’s just low. Oh. Right, Owen, you are that low.
Another thing that I liked about this book was the fact that in the end, Aster found the guts to break up with Owen. She ended up with George McBride, a scrawny teen who’s in the same youth group as Aster. He’s not exactly what I’d call as handsome, but he’s a decent guy, I guess. He definitely went along fine with Lily. He didn’t call her ‘retarded’! And Aster deserved a better guy than someone who sour-grapes.
In the end, I decided to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars, because while it was full of values, the conversations were somewhat lacking. It doesn’t have enough of that witty and bubbly vibe that I go looking for in teen fiction. And also, I found the characters a little underdeveloped. I also found Aster a bit dull and passive for a main character. And it doesn’t help that the book was written in her perspective.
Overall, it was a good book. Not exceptional, but it’s insightful and realistic. And don’t forget its religious side, too. I would definitely recommend it for a bit light reading.