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Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review:The Queen Of Everything

Premise:A man's affair with a married woman ends up ruining his life, as narrated by his teenage daughter.

Author:Deb Caletti


Notes:Cover art taken from Amazon.

Pros:The affair. Jordan's observations.

Cons:A couple of characters. Excessive content. Dated.

Her mom was the wacky, embarrassing one. Her dad was supposed to be the normal one. But why does he date a married woman? Why is he acting strange?

The relationship between the dad Vince and his illicit lover Gayle was worth reading about - not because it's sweet or romantic, but because it shows just how bad something can get when you let a relationship consume you. It's a disaster waiting to happen, and the fallout is going to be bigger and much worse than a broken heart.

Jordan's boyfriend Kale felt like a spot on the rest of the story. He has no real charm or anything that makes you like him or love to hate him (this term is overused, but it fits) and doesn't really play a big part in the story. It's not even like Jordan's looking for a guy to help make herself feel better, and it's made clear she doesn't like him. There's also hinting that she and her best friend's brother Jackson are headed towards a romance, making Kale feel even more out of place in the story. The aforementioned best friend Melissa is kind of annoying too, and wishy-washy.

The book's content (sex, language, etc.) got excessive. This is supposed to be a young adult book, but it's so graphic in places that if it were a movie, it would get an R rating. And a lot of it really wasn't necessary. But Jordan's observations on people, life, and other stuff was pretty interesting, and a lot of it resonated with me.

Overall, if the aforementioned issues don't turn you off, I would recommend you take a look.

Sex:Jordan mentions her dad used to flirt too much with waitresses, as well as he and his last girlfriend tried too hard to pretend they didn't have sex. When she comes across this woman later after her dad has been out all night, she's happy they made up, only to find they didn't. From then on, the dad becomes obsessed with his new lover. He wears a scarf to hide the bite marks he got from her. At a public party, the two get drunk and blatantly flirt (she even squeezes his genitals). And according to him, at their first meeting, she placed his hand up her shirt and said "I chose you".
One of the teachers at Jordan's school is rumored to be a lesbian, about which several students make rude or disparaging remarks. A pair of girls say they don't understand lesbians (one calling it icky). Melissa finds it gross that her brother and Jordan might have anything romantic going on.
Kale is one of the guys most girls at school drool over and is rumored to have a tattooed penis (which is proven false). He and Jordan make out a few times and end up having sex at a party, which describes clothing removal and putting on the condom. He later tries to talk her into having sex again (even more graphic with descriptions of his erection and starting to get physical with her), but she lies she has her period. At one point, he's caught tongue-kissing a different girl with her hand on his crotch.
Jordan says she has kissed and had "hors d'oeuvres" with her few past boyfriends, and thinks she might be a prude at heart. She's unsure about sex with Kale because she feels she should love or at least like him first. The manager at her grandfather's store checks out her boobs. According to her, one of her teachers looks at girls' butts during gym.
Just a few of the reasons Jordan finds her mother Claire embarrassing include breastfeeding in the middle of a parent-teacher conference and throwing a party when Jordan got her first period (after which one of Claire's male tenants avoids eye contact with Jordan). Jordan also got sick of seeing tenants in their bathrobes and got a glimpse of a guy in his underwear after she yelled "Fire!"
There are mentions of things like erections, bras, swimsuits riding up, strippers, juvenile sex jokes, breast implants, cousins marrying, pornographic calendars, venereal diseases, and skimpy costumes. A guy licks a girl's ear. It's said a man's singing won't get underwear thrown at him anytime soon. Jordan likes to think a woman she dislikes spies on a nudist colony. One of Claire's friends tried to be a lesbian for years, but couldn't get past the sex. Vince tells a story about seeing his father give a female neighbor a pat on the butt. It's assumed that a woman and her husband just had sex when she appears to be in a good mood. Kale makes a remark about how it must feel to French a girl with a tongue piercing, talks about a different girl with huge boobs, and jokes about PMS.

Violence:The book starts with Jordan talking about people asking and thinking her dad was dangerous from the beginning. Exactly what he did is described in more detail near the end of the book. In the meantime, he steals and tears up a photo of Gayle's husband. He even grabs and twists Jordan's wrists hard enough to bruise. She thinks about what would happen to her dad if she were to get hit by a car and die.
It's mentioned a man committed suicide by shooting himself and his blood is still on the nearby rocks. A boy broke his leg during a hike, while his friend was missing for days. Characters pass a fatal car accident. It's rumored Kale killed a cat by luring it to him and twisting its neck, and he actually does shoot rabbits. Several people call him dangerous.
Melissa and her teacher get into an argument about how appropriate a children's story about a tree visiting a lumber yard is. A sign is destroyed with rocks. It's mentioned a dog knocked over some incense and burned a hole in its owner's rug, a shot pig nearly caused a war way back when, a guy swelled up from multiple bee stings, and that a woman at a party would be diagnosed with cancer that kills her. Jordan lies her dad is an ex-Marine who killed a guy and calls Gayle the kind of person you want to push down an escalator. Someone dies from a heart attack.

Language/Insults:Words like "f**k", "sh*t", and "g*dd*mn" are used frequently, as well as at least one use (often more) each of "G*d", "J*sus", "d**k", "d**n", "h*ll", "Chr*st", "t*t", "p*ss", "lesbo", "a**" (once said by a Christian character), "d*ke", "f*ggot", "b*gger", "c*ck", "broad", "b**ch", the middle finger, and "crap". Political correctness is brought up when mentioning the expression "Ind*an summer". Cruel comments are made about fat girls. A teacher swears in school.

Drugs/Alcohol:People drink socially and at parties and smoke (some of them underage), and alcohol is referenced several times. A guy jokes the doctor who delivered him had to sober up first. According to Jackson, bagpipes were often played by the village drunk.

Gross stuff:One of the many things Jordan finds annoying about her mother is an incident when she peed in a garbage can because she couldn't wait for the bathroom. A look a girl gives her friend is compared to one a dog gets when he doesn't scratch on the door to go out. A guy complains about girls' constant need to pee. Nausea and vomiting is brought up. There's mention of someone with dirty fingernails and a pee joke to mock an obnoxious guy.

Spiritual:Jordan's boss and her boss's husband are called "Capital C Christians" who are rather pushy, condescending, and obnoxious. Contrasting them is Big Momma, a grandmother-like figure who talks about God like He's someone easy to talk to even when you're a mess. She talks a lot about instinct and nature as well, putting it in a way that sounds spiritual.
A boy claims that when he was lost in the woods, a spirit saved him. Jordan's stepfather Nathan is a non-practicing Jew. Gayle is compared to a siren. Kale complains about Jordan's reluctance to have sex and asks if it's a religious thing. He also says he doesn't believe in karma. Someone complains about religious telemarketers and the kid at 7-11 who blessed him. Jackson is compared to a small church with pictures of sad Jesus. A man is given a Catholic funeral, and it's thought if he's in heaven, he'd refuse a halo and rather have a glowing cap.
Jordan mentions she isn't familiar with fake smiles, because among other things, she has never met a preacher's wife. She also says if God really wanted to punish you, He'd keep you in a park bathroom for eternity (I kind of feel the same way) and that most people say stuff like "bless his heart" when they least mean it. She thinks God is most likely to get you in life when you wave your arms and draw attention to yourself.
There are references to televangelists, nuns, crystal balls, prayer, reverends, and reading horoscopes. Jordan talks about the mystical things her mother or another woman she dislikes would say in certain situations. The feeling of summer is called a magic brew. Melissa reacts to a suggestion as if Jordan took the pope's hat and danced naked with it. A man sings "Sing Low Sweet Chariot". An instructor is called a goddess.

So what was your opinion?

© 2015 by M.R.R.

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