“Beyond Clueless” by Linas Alsenas (2015)
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction, LGBT
Page Length: 256 pages (hardcover edition)
Marty Sullivan’s life ends, basically, when her parents enroll her in a private high school. A private, Catholic, girls-only high school. Meanwhile, at their local public school, her best friend, Jimmy, comes out of the closet and finds himself a boyfriend and a new group of friends. Marty feels left out and alone, until she gets a part in the school musical, Into the Woods, and Jimmy and his new crew are in it, too! Things start looking even better when Marty falls for foxy fellow cast member Felix Peroni. And Felix seems to like her back. But the drama is just beginning. Can Marty and Jimmy keep up their friendship? And is Marty’s new beau everything he appears to be? Or is Marty too clueless to figure it all out before it’s too late? (description from Goodreads)
Beyond Cluless follows a girl named Marty and her adventures of starting (at a private) high school. Her best friend Jimmy is attending a public school far away from her, has come out and has a boyfriend, as well as a tight-knit crew of friends that causes Marty to be jealous. Her new school is completely different and she manages to make a new friend named Xiang. With all of these new changes thrown at her, Marty tries to navigate life and school while feeling like a “fish out of water”.
This book is definitely a coming of age story as Marty tries to find out who she is. Marty started out as a likable character, but she’s tends to be a little over dramatic and becomes so self-absorbed over the course of the novel that I started to dislike her. A lot of the problems that she runs into throughout the book could have been avoided if she just took the time to listen and pay attention to others.
The plot was predictable (to me) and I wasn’t surprised by what happened in the end. The book is also relatable to the YA audience because it’s centered on the high school experience. While humorous for the most part, I liked that it did delve into more serious topics such as peer pressure, sex, and identity issues.
Overall I thought this book was just “okay”. I liked that it incorporated musicals/theater with the story, but the downfall was Marty’s self-absorbed nature.