REVIEW: “Anatomy of a Misfit” by Andrea Portes

From Goodreads:

This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.

Fall’s buzzed-about, in-house favorite.

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in18340210 school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

“Anatomy of a Misfit” is one of the books I was given at the Epic Reads Fall Book Tour. I finished it about a week ago, and I have been struggling with what to say about it since. When I met Andrea Portes, she said that her book is based on a true story, something that happened to her in high school, and this book was her way of telling it.

I liked the book. I liked what she was trying to do. It’s told in first-person, through the voice of Anika, a 15-year-old girl struggling to sustain her popularity despite her “vampire” Romanian ancestry.

My only problem with it is the language. So much of how the characters speak to each other is in this strange, supposedly “high school” way of talking and I just didn’t buy it. The diction was so simplified that I had a hard time connecting with it at certain points. I understand what she was trying to do, I’m just not sure I agree with it or its effectiveness.

Despite that, the novel is an intriguing analysis on modern-day high school behaviors. I say analysis, because that’s really what it is. It’s not necessarily a plot-driven book; it’s much more observant and powered by hindsight.

While I was at times a bit distracted by the language, for the most part, I loved the book. It’s entertaining and brave.

I’m really excited because I am doing a presentation on “Anatomy of a Misfit” for my YA lit class and I can’t wait to share it with my peers and see what they have to say about what it (and see what they disagree with me about!).

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Epic Reads Fall Book Tour

BIG NEWS! About a month ago, I got an e-mail saying that I won the Epic Reads fall book tour sweepstakes! So this past week, the awesome team at Epic Reads flew me from Columbus, Ohio to Princeton, New Jersey to meet with their authors and attend the first stop on their book tour.

The women featured are Anna Carey, author of “Blackbird,” Amy Ewing, author of “The Jewel,” Heather Demetrios, author of “Exquisite Captive,” Madeleine Roux, author of “Sanctum,” and Andrea Portes, author of “Anatomy of a Misfit.”

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And basically, it was the best Tuesday of my life. I was able to bring a guest, so I brought my roommate Julianne. We drove from Athens to Columbus at like 6 a.m., hopped on a plane to Philadelphia, and were greeted by a driver holding a sign that read, “Whitney.” He brought us to his swank black Cadillac and drove us to our hotel in Princeton. At check-in, the concierge gave us two warm chocolate chip cookies, WHICH IS APPARENTLY A THING AT HOTELS NOW. I KNOW. We got settled and then took a cab to the university. Princeton is an unbelievable campus. It is beautiful. It honestly looks like Cambridge or some estate in England. It’s amazing. And all of the students were so fashionably dressed and put together. I’m saying NO LEGGINGS. ANYWHERE. It was a beautiful sight.

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only picture of us #selfie

only picture of us #selfie

Then it was time to go to the meet and greet. We sat in a Corner Bakery and chatted with the authors and the Epic Reads team. It was such a delight. The authors had never met each other before, so it was like we were all getting to know each other for the first time together. They had so many useful tips to share about writing and getting into the business, and are each genuinely friendly and funny and talented. I told them about my blog and my YA lit class and they seemed jazzed about it, which was rad. They gave us signed copies of their books with little notes of encouragement inside. (So far, I’ve read one and it was awesome. Review to come).

Afterwards, we headed to Barnes and Noble for the event. They were greeted by a big crowd of readers of all ages, from ten to thirty. THE POWER OF YA PEOPLE, IT BRINGS US TOGETHER. They chatted about writing and answered audience questions. What was really cool was that, even though they didn’t know each other before that day, they really balanced each other out in terms of their answers. They let each other speak and bounced seamlessly off of each other’s responses. There was an incredible group dynamic, which was entrancing and, to be honest, kind of enlightening.

The Epic Reads team was so great, too. We walked in to Barnes and Noble, and they were filled with this energy brought about entirely by the presence of so many books. And, you have to think, they work with books, they see them all the time, but they were still so pumped to be there and see all the new covers and editions. It just solidified my desire to someday work at a place like Epic Reads, with people who share my devotion to books. It’s real, people. And now that I’m a senior in college, that’s something I really need to consider. So it was really comforting to see that there are jobs out there somewhere that can foster my bookish tendencies.

It was an unforgettable, overwhelming, wonderful experience that I will always cherish. I’m so grateful to Epic Reads and the authors for one of the best days I’ve ever had.