I’m a little bothered that my hypothesis wasn’t entirely right.
I thought The List was going to take me back to a simpler time,
but in some ways it’s just made my life more complicated.
“It’s not that different now, is it? Being sixteen?”
“Adolescence is the same tragedy being performed again and again.
The only things that change are the stage props.”
After Mallory discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a girl he met online, her perfect world comes crashing down in a messy social networking confrontation. But when Mallory discovers a list of goals her Grandmother wrote for her senior year, she is inspired by the simplicity of teenage life back then. Now, Mallory is swearing off boys and modern conveniences and, with her sister’s help, checking off each item on her Grandma’s to-do list, circa 1962. Along the way, Mallory will uncover family secrets, discover her purpose, and, just maybe, find a new steady.
A lovely blend of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins, Going Vintage is the perfect contemporary romance: light and breezy on the surface, surprisingly thoughtful at its core. I was initially attracted to this novel because of the brightly colored cover with its vintage feel (even as a librarian, I still judge books by the cover!), but the plot pulled me in almost immediately. Leavitt has an easy, clean writing style that fits the light, funny feel of the book. Quirky characters, retro goals (Find a steady! Become secretary of the pep club!) and relevant themes of connectivity and unplugging make this a charming, relatable YA novel.
What really makes Going Vintage shine, however, are the characters. Mallory is a brilliant, realistic narrator. She’s quirky and funny and obsessed with lists, but she’s also confused and uncertain. For the first time, she actually wants to follow through on a plan, but she still has to move past her usual ambivalence. As it turns out, living like its 1962 while everyone around you moves in the 21st century is difficult. I’m not adventurous enough (or crazy enough, perhaps?) to try one of these social experiments myself, so I appreciated Mallory’s uncertainty and her few setbacks more than the actual plan. It felt more true to life than if she had wholeheartedly thrown herself into it without any hesitation.
Leavitt also did a nice job writing most of the secondary characters. The boyfriend was appropriately awful, and the new boy was sweet and quirky, the perfect friend and possible love interest. The rest of Mallory’s friends were fairly one-dimensional, but their single-minded focus on social networking and texting worked for the purposes of the story. I thought Leavitt did a wonderful job with Mallory’s family members, particularly her younger sister, Ginnie, who is smart, focused and wise beyond her years. I loved seeing Mallory and Ginnie’s interactions in such a positive and supportive light. Mallory’s Grandma was the other stand-out. Her changing relationship with Mallory and her reconnection with her past added a nice dimension to the overall novel.
Going Vintage is a delightful contemporary romance perfect for a lazy day on the beach or a night in on the couch. It’s as bright, quirky and colorful as the retro cover would suggest!
Book Source: From the publisher, via NetGalley (Thank you Bloomsbury!)