We all know how formative our teen years are … that time when we’re busy figuring out who we are, who want to be, and where we fit into the world around us. It’s part of what makes being a teenager so equally frustrating and wonderful.
The book follows the ups and downs of Ava, as she navigates a new school and her attempts at finding herself. Her family life sets up what makes this book so different: Ava’s parents are uber-liberal (she calls them by their first names, not “mom and dad”) & they love that she has an “ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing.” They love she’s declared herself a lesbian and has an uber-chic, feminist, anti-establishment girlfriend. Ava, however, isn’t sure that’s what she wants — but she knows this isn’t it. Sure, she’s made her parents happy …but Ava wants to try on a new personality. She wants to fit in with the “in” crowd, wear pink, maybe kiss a boy.
And thus begins her journey at a new school — where she sheds her old persona and wears girly pink clothes, gets involved in the school musical, and makes out with a boy.
But as Ava navigates this new life she’s created for herself, she finds herself just as lost as ever. Who is she? Who does she want to be? Maybe being “normal” isn’t quite what she imagined.
At times, reading Pink can be frustrating because its main character flounders so much … but it’s this very quality that makes the book so accessible. Ava is discovering what kind of person she wants to be, and the reader is along for the journey.
It’s also refreshing to see a YA book that isn’t about the geeky/longer/fringe girl longing for the hot-but-misunderstood guy. Not that I don’t mind those stories; they’re great. But it’s always a nice change of pace when something different comes along. Ava’s situation is so different from anything I’ve read in YA, and this uniqueness gives her experience a freshness.
But it isn’t just Ava that changes things up. She’s surrounded by friends and acquaintances who all break the molds of stereotypical characters. Wilkinson keeps you on your toes with a colorful cast, each character with varying levels of depth and perspective. No one quite fits the image they’re trying to uphold, and it’s satisfying to watch Ava come to understand this about her peers. Because she isn’t the only one finding her way in life; everyone else is, too!
After all the drama and debacles unfold in Pink, Wilkinson ties up everything with an ending that hits all the right notes. It might not leave every reader entirely satisfied, but it is exactly the ending that this book needed to be a success. Because Ava isn’t going to figure out who she is in just a couple hundred pages. She’s got a lot of years ahead of her to sort through what kind of person she wants to be. What Pink offers is the lesson that Ava needs to do what feels right to her, and not try to fit anyone else’s ideas of who she should be.
Pink is in stores today!