Monday, October 10, 2016

In Case You Missed It by Sara Darer Littman, 2016

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Sammy Wallach has epic plans for the end of junior year over: Sneak out to the city to see her favorite band. Get crush-worthy Jamie Moss to ask her to prom. Rock all exams (APs and driver's).
With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy's got things covered. That is, until the bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family's private cloud, including Sammy's entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.
Life. Is. Over.
Now Sammy's best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she's desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy's not the only one with secrets -- her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy's case, private.

(320 pages)

The first thing that struck me about Sammy Wallach was that she's really similar to me in a lot of ways. She's a junior; I'm a senior. She's taking four AP exams; I just took four AP exams, and am going to do it again next year. She's training for her driver's test; I'm training for mine (and bonus: my mother used to be every bit as anxious a passenger as hers is). As the story continued, more similarities emerged–we've both never dated, we both live a huge portion of our lives online, we both–well, actually, that would be veering into spoiler territory.

The second big realization I had about Sammy, though, was that while we share a lot of lifestyle habits and pressures, we are two extremely different people. I would never, ever sneak out to a concert - especially not by lying to my parents about going to an AP study sleepover. I would also never calculate my exact odds of being asked out by my crush. With those two actions out of the way, I think the impact of having my information leaked online would be a lot less emotionally devastating than it was for Sammy. I don't know, though, I suppose there are probably embarrassing things about me in my files. You never truly understand how terrible something would be until you're dealing with it yourself.

The fact remains, though, that I had a hard time really feeling as sympathetic about Sammy's situation as I was probably expected to. The truth is that I've been in her shoes–or at least, shoes very similar to hers. I can understand the pressures Sammy was dealing with before the leak, because they're the same pressures that I deal with every day. Heck, I'm a senior–my life is pressure, more pressure than she faces (before the leak, of course). But when I'm upset, I don't lie to my parents or sneak out to forbidden concerts (or even write nasty things in an online diary). Instead, I lie in bed and watch tv. I read a novel. I put my thoughts in order, and review a book that's been poking at my conscience for a while. It's hard for me to get past Sammy's actions, because I just can't stand the way she used the "I'm a good, overworked and stressed out kid" line. That excuse just doesn't hold water with me.

I think there's some character growth by the end of the book, though. Sammy still isn't my favorite character ever, but life throws her some major curveballs that both teach her to put life in perspective and make her more sympathetic to read about. Also, the romance subplot is really, really sweet! I hope I get to date a guy like that someday.

Anyway, I'm not going to recommend In Case You Missed it as the best book ever. It's pretty good as entertainment, though, and raises some interesting issues about innate racism and sexism in the job market (even if it does choose about two examples of each and return to them ad nauseum). I enjoyed it pretty well, though  not as much as I'd hoped I would. If you've read it, what did you think? Would you recommend it to others?

And also, on a completely unrelated note, since when do we say that someone is "a racist" instead of that they're "racist?" Is that some sort of new phrasing I've just been really ignorant about? Because Sammy and her friends are always saying things like "I'm not a racist," "you could be a racist," "she's a racist," etc. It caught me pretty off-guard.

Disclaimer: I received an unsolicited copy of this novel for review from the publisher.

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