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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