Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Match Made In High School Nite [My Real Life] [Book Groups]

Last night our book group all got together (plus a new member!) to discuss Kristin Walker's A Match Made In High School. The food theme this month was Food You Loved In High School. So, that was a welcome blast from the past.
We had (from left to right) Nutrigrain bars, brownies, soft pretzels, fruit snacks, and fruit with a yummmmy toffee dip.

We didn't really adore this month's pick.  Well, that might be putting it lightly.  We weren't fans at all.  We picked it apart pretty thoroughly during our discussion.  We found some good things, but not enough good to overpower the bad language and innuendo.  You'll recall I'm not a huge fan of those things?  Well, my friends aren't either.  So, unfortunately we wouldn't recommend the book, but we had a great time discussing it!  And the fact that none of us really liked it led to a lot of great discussion, which is something we lack when we all love the book (like we did with The Body Finder).

Here are the questions that Kristin sent us for discussion, and some of our responses:

1. One of the themes I tried to emphasize was the idea that people are more than what they seem on the surface, more than their stereotype or the label we've given them. Which characters show this? What about the adult characters?
We thought she did a great job of showing this through her characters.  All of these characters, even the adults showed this.  But the one that we didn't buy the most was Amanda.  Mean girls are mean girls, and it's not usually jealousy that propels them to hurt people.

2. Marriage is such a hot topic these days. Many people seem to draw specific boundaries around which kind of relationships qualify marriage and which don't. I tried to illustrate some of the various forms that relationships and marriage can take. Can you identify them? Do you feel they fit the criteria for marriage? What about the marriages that failed?
 While we were able to identify these, we were disappointed in some of the stereotypes that went along with those relationships.  We did like Fiona's parents' relationship though, and thought it was unique in the YA book world.

3. Drawing forward from the previous question, what about gay marriage? I tried very hard to address the topic with the subplot of Uncle Tommy, as well as with the POMME mothers. In what ways does Uncle Tommy's relationship mirror or differ from other relationships in the book?
 We don't discuss gay marriage or many political issues in our group as it tends to get heated, and we all like to stay friends.  But we all really enjoyed the rainbow protest scene with the parents.  Though we really wondered why there wasn't more parental interaction with the kids and asking them and teaching them what they should know.  We sorta felt that this action reinforced the misconception that people can let schools raise their children for them.

4. SPOILER:  I've caught some flack for deviating from the normal formula for a romance novel by not having Fiona end up with Todd. My intent was to prove that the quiet, overweight loner can get the girl. Did you like that? Or did it make you mad that Fiona and Todd never got together?
We were all so relieved that Fiona and Todd didn't get together.  Especially since Fiona and Todd's relationship so closely mirrored the dynamic that Fiona's parents had.  We were happy that Kristin was able to overcome the stereotype and let the fat dude get the girl.  We think that more kids need to realize that it's not just the outside that counts.

5. Many people have found Fiona to be unlikable at the beginning, but I had to make her that way in order to show her growth and change over the course of the book. In what ways did she change? Where do you think the turning point was?

Some of us loved Fiona from the beginning (me and one other) and the rest of us really couldn't connect with her from the beginning and had a really hard time caring about her throughout the book because of it.  But, we all saw the change over the course of the book and were glad for it.

We're looking forward to next month's pick, and we're totally open to suggestions.  If you guys know of a book that you think would make for a great book group discussion and great yummy food, leave us a comment.  The only requirement we have is that it's YA.