Shane Bolks was a middle-grade teacher. This occupation seems to have given her plenty of “lab” time in the world of adolescent insecurity, of which her protagonist, Rory Egglehoff, is a master. Rory is a Star Wars/Star Trek/sci-fi fan(atic) whose mother is a hippie named Sunshine and whose biological father is an unknown member of the commune in which Sunshine resided in the early 70s. Rory’s stepfather is a tax laywer who accomodates his wife’s liberal tendencies, including her vegetarianism, most of the time. One of the best scenes in the book is a flashback to when Dan, Rory’s stepdad, surreptitiously during “errands” took her to Burger King to get a Star Wars glass. In addition to the glass, he got her a burger in all of its corporate meaty sinfulness. That, Rory says, is when Dan became her dad. Add in Stormy, her sister, who’s also into the alternative, counter-culture lifestyle of their mother, and Rory, the accountant, feels out of place.
Her best friend, Allison, was in the popular crowd at school and they have stayed friends, even though Rory continually feels herself unworthy. When Rory’s school crush, Hunter, re-enters her life through work, Allison comes up with a plan to make Hunter fall in love with Rory. Fashion makeovers happen. Appeals to Princess Leia’s level of confidence ensue, and Hunter is hooked. Rory discovers that, even though he was popular and seemed perfect, he’s a real person with funny interests, weak spots, and old emotional scars.
Rory becomes a frustrating protagonist when she becomes so involved in her insecurities that, even though Hunter has kissed her and is showing interest, she refuses to break up with her insensitive super-geeky boyfriend, Tom, and she ditches her sister, best friend and mother, as well as lies to nearly everyone she knows, including Hunter. Insecurities are terrible, but this becomes a pathos that’s almost inexplicable.
Overall, Bolks has created a likeable character, even if the story itself seems too good to be true (geeky girl lands hunky popular guy, even if they are now in their 30s). However, the cast was fun enough that I think I’ll look up her next book, which stars Rory’s best friend, Allison.