Monday, March 26, 2018

Finding Felicity, by Stacey Kade

Caroline never planned for the lie to go that far. But when her social butterfly mother pressed her for details about her new school, it just popped out. To hide the fact she had yet to make a single new friend, Caroline borrowed characters from her favorite retro TV show, "Felicity." She figured she'd make some actual friends eventually and wouldn't need the fictional ones anymore, but when that didn't happen she kept the lie going and growing...until it finally backfired the night of graduation, when her mom threw her a surprise party and (surprise) none of her "friends" showed up. 

Caroline confesses and is immediately sent into therapy. She worries that this will ruin her plans to go away to college, but her shrink thinks that going away and starting fresh just might be the best thing for Caroline. As long as she regularly checks in, of course.

Caroline is relieved. Because she has a very important reason for attending this particular college: It is the same school Liam, her high school crush, is attending. This is the boy she was too shy to speak to for the past three years. But she knows things will change once the two of them are away at school together. She knows they'll become a couple. Because she and Liam are meant to be together. Obviously. After all, that's what happened when Felicity followed her crush Ben to college. 

What Caroline doesn't get is this is real life, not a cheesy 90s TV drama. And things aren't going to work out the way she hopes. Unfortunately, she's going to have to learn this the hard way.

Stacey Kade's new novel Finding Felicity reads like a checklist for exactly what you SHOULDN'T do when going away to college. Underage partying, language, and other mature situations make this book a poor choice for younger teen readers. Caroline is the quintessential unlikable/unreliable narrator. There are some serious plot holes. And the ending wraps up far too neatly. (Also, it's doubtful today's teens would have heard of Felicity...even with the recent wave of 90s nostalgia. It's not among the better known of 90s TV shows. So many of the references will likely fly over the heads of today's young readers). 

And yet...the book has a certain charm. As a reader, I totally felt (sorry) for Caroline and hoped for things would turn out well for her. And this kept me reading through every single awkward moment and cringe-worthy situation. I was happy to witness Caroline's eventual transformation from shy and clueless teen to a somewhat better adjusted young lady (this time with real actual friends). I still didn't like her much, but her character did improve significantly in the final chapters. And that was refreshing.

Overall, Finding Felicity was a decent read. Not the most memorable book I've read this year,  but it kept me entertained.--AJB

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