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The Encyclopedia of Me, by Karen Rivers

Aug 18, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers


One sentence review-summary:
I kinda hated this book. Two stars, because some parts were memorable, but the whole thing was frustrating as a whole.

Summary:
This is the story of Tink’s summer leading up to her eighth-grade year. Written in the style of an encyclopedia and narrated by Tink, who writes it when she is grounded to have something to do, Tink reveals the complex emotions of a young teen.

Setting:
This book takes place in the present day. The location is not specified.

Main Characters:
Tink Aaron-Martin, a biracial soon-to-be eighth grade girl.
Freddie Blue Anderson, Tink’s Swedish best friend.
Ruth Quayle, an unpopular girl who likes to skateboard and who turns out to be an unlikely friend for Tink.
Kai, the extremely cute boy with blue hair who lives next door to Tink and who skateboards as well.

Thoughts:
The friendship between Tink and Freddie Blue is incredibly frustrating. Tink becomes concerned with what BFFs should feel and letting that dictate her emotions. “Freddie Blue is my BFF! I should be happy if she has a boyfriend first! I shouldn’t even care! But I do.” Definitely not a sign of a healthy friendship. Also, I think that Tink idealized Freddie Blue. Examples of this include Tink frequently saying, “Freddie Blue would never do that to me.”
Secondly, for goodness’s sake, Tink! You’re going into eighth grade. You sound like a fifth grader! Subject matter aside, if you add Tink’s personality with a childish love of paperdolls you could easily create a nine-year-old.
I think that Tink’s idea of her role in her household differs from her parents’ and in many ways Tink doesn’t like being labeled. I don’t think that she tried to defy the label but she openly disliked it. She couldn’t help being a Peacemaker. She wished her parents’ expectations were different.
Tink’s decision to switch to Isadora is ironic, in a way. When she was four, Tink probably begged to be called Tink, yet nine years later, she says, “You shouldn’t let a four year old choose her own name!” But she has a new identity now. That’s great. Obviously, frequent identity changes can be a problem (hint hint Mclean from “What Happened to Goodbye” by Sarah Dessen). But for Tink it’s actually healthy, like a breath of fresh air.
So while I had been very excited about reading this book initially, it fell flat for me.
Also the constant footnotes were SO annoying. Many times I would miss the note, only to find a parade of small text at the bottom, and the I would search and search for the note.
The whole “I’m writing an encyclopedia about my life so I can get famous” thing kinda failed to be honest. At times Tink says completely out of line things like “Don’t tell ___ I said that,” etc. If she actually plans on publishing it, which she constantly assures us of, then those people, like Lex or Freddie Blue, would probably know anyway.
I feel as if Rivers did not flesh out the characters much as far as appearances go; that, or she is under the false impression that soon to be eighth grade girls wouldn’t want to describe people. Quite the opposite! I am going into seventh grade but I know some people who are a grade older anyhow. I honestly don’t know what Freddie Blue looks like, besides that she is Swedish and has “expensive gold streaks in her hair.”
I don’t think Tink is like any other black girl I’ve known. If not for the parts where she talks about about her afro and her father, I would have thought she was a white girl. With all due respect, Ms. Rivers, you cannot just add an ‘interesting’ heritage to an otherwise Plain Jane character and just expect it to work! Tink has got to have a voice!
Besides having blue hair, what doe Kai look like? Even if Tink knew little about him, she would certainly be able to describe him, especially after mooning over him!
We don’t know much about Seb except that he has autism and therefore gets to do anything he likes. Tink is therefore understandably jealous.  Her jealousy may be understandable, but it definitely isn’t excusable, and he ‘he gets everything easy, why can’t I’ attitude just further proves how immature she is.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book to teen girls with a taste for drama.
 
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