Friday, August 20, 2010
Review: Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Author: Polly Shulman
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub. Date: 2.16.2006
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Jane Austen, hobbies, love, friendship, secrets
Description (from GoodReads):
"There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast." Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine's quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys' prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh's isn't so bad after all. . . .
I read ENTHUSIASM shortly after its release in 2006 and, when I went searching for audiobooks for a recent roadtrip, I felt compelled to bring it along. Before I'd even finished the first disc, I remembered just how much I adore Polly Shulman's debut. I was so engrossed that I compeletely missed one of my exits and continued onward for about half an hour before I noticed. In fact, when I realized my error, I didn't even mind... it meant my trip was extended and I would have an entire extra hour before I'd have to give up ENTHUSIASM!
Enthusiasts like Ashleigh are high spirited, stubborn, and, sometimes, crazed. When Ashleigh zeros in on the one thing Julie is actually passionate about, in her quiet, reverent way, she knows there's no use trying to dissuade her. Ashleigh plans on finding love. No, not just love, but true love, like Elizabeth Bennett finds in the scowling Mr. Darcy.
I didn't have a friend like Ashleigh in high school, but I imagine my attitude would have been similar to Julie's. Though Julie often complains about Ashleigh's shenanigans, it's clear to the reader that she's fiercely loyal and loves Ashleigh despite her eccentricities. ENTHUSIAM celebrates a healthly relationships between best friends. Hurrah! I definitely don't take issue with the books that showcase dysfuntional friendships, but they do seem to crop up more often than than the former, so I'm always excited to find a relationship like Julie and Ashleigh's.
It's difficult to discuss the romance in ENTHUSIASM with out spoilers, so I'll keep it brief. Swoon. To be back in high school experiencing my first kiss... This aspect of the novel was absolutely adorable.
Julie's enthusiastic adventures are sure to keep readers (or listeners!) of all ages entertained.
A note on audiobooks (and listening to ENTHUSIASM, rather than reading):
When selecting audiobooks I prefer contemporary YA with laugh-out-loud humor... and, of course, romance. That way, as I'm driving down the highway, I look insane...
In all seriousness, I need a book that will keep me wide-eyed and engaged for hours at time, so I must choose carefully. Sometimes, I'll be so wrapped up in a story that, even after I've reached my destination, I'll sit in the driveway listening... ENTHUSIASM had me sneaking back out to the car when no one was paying attention, just to hear a few more chapters.