Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life

Summary: Twelve-year-old Cassie has a lot to cope with when her father moves "out of the picture." Her mom's constantly working overtime, her teenage sister's going AWOL, and her little brother seriously needs attention. It's up to Cassie to prevent total chaos at home -- or so she thinks.

She can't control everything, though. At school Cassie's two "best" friends are turning nasty, and a cute boy is sending mixed signals. And then there's Mr. Mullaney -- the weirdest, hardest English teacher in the seventh grade -- who hates everything she does. Since Mr. Mullaney isn't even reading her brilliant work, Cassie starts submitting journal entries like "A Virtual Tour of My Insanely Messy Desk." But her sassy humor isn't winning her any friends or helping her ailing grades. What's a girl to do when life gets totally insane?

Barbara Dee has created a witty, poignant portrait of an intense, honest, feisty girl who is ferociously funny and only too human. -- Aladdin Mix

I really didn't have any intention of reading JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE by Barbara Dee right now (it's not like I don't have a lot of other books that I "should" be reading), but Booking Daughter was so excited about this book that I couldn't help but read it. She wanted to talk about it with me, so how could I resist her enthusiasm? I had enjoyed the other novel that Ms. Dee wrote, SOLVING ZOE (you can read my review here), so I dropped the other book I was reading and jumped in!

As was the case with SOLVING ZOE, I thoroughly enjoyed this middle-grade novel -- I can totally see why Booking Daughter was so anxious to have me read it! I think I enjoyed it even more than SOLVING ZOE and I really liked that book! JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE is the story of Cassie, a seventh grader whose life is suddenly turned upside-down. When her father leaves (for no apparent reason to the kids), Cassie's and her family have to leave their house and move into a small apartment. In addition, Cassie's mother has to work long hours to support the family; and Cassie's older sister Miranda is always leaving Cassie with her younger brother and all the household responsibilities. To make matters even worse, she is having problems at school and making bad grades. With all that going on, no wonder Cassie feels that her life is a little insane!

As a mother, I couldn't help but love Cassie. She had so much responsibility thrown on her at such a young ago, and her personality made her try to protect everyone she loved. Of course, I felt sorry for her situation, but I loved her snarky sense of humor -- she was too funny! As a result of all the changes in her life, Cassie ended up having to give up extra-curricular activities and eventually some of her so-called friends. In fact, Booking Daughter made the comment to me that both of the young girls in Ms. Dee's books were outsiders and felt like they didn't have any real friends. I thought that was really insightful, but I'm a little biased, wouldn't you say?

I love how much this book made my daughter think! When she described the story to me, it was very obvious not only how much she liked the book, but also how much she took away from it. I can't help but recommend books like this one to every young girl (and boy!) I actually think JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE would make an ideal selection for our mother-daughter book club. Ms. Dee has a fantastic website which provides some discussion questions not only for this book, but also SOLVING ZOE!

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE was Ms. Dee's first novel. It was a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and I can definitely see why. Ms. Dee has a third novel in the works that Booking Daughter and I can't wait to read (it's scheduled for April 2010!) If you'd like to learn more about Ms. Dee, you can read a Q&A with her here. Ms. Dee has also recently started a blog -- it's a lot of fun and you should really check it out, especially if you are a fan of middle-grade fiction.

Since I read this based on Booking Daughter's recommendation, here are her thoughts:

I was excited when my mom showed me JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE because I liked SOLVING ZOE. I liked this book even better than SOLVING ZOEY because I thought it was funnier and more realistic. I liked Cassie but her older sister Miranda was way more interesting in some ways. I thought Miranda was hilarious because she was always expecting Cassie to be responsible. She would leave with lots of work while she went over to her friends' houses and waited for a boy to call.

Cassie was a nice girl who felt responsible for her little brother. I felt bad for Cassie because she had a difficult time in school and at home. She was a good writer but she still fell behind in English class. Her friends ditched her because she stood up for Bess. I was hoping that they would become friends because I thought Bess was a nice person and wouldn't hurt Cassie.

I liked the ending especially the last sentence because it surprised me. I am going to suggest this book to all of my friends.


bermudaonion said...

This book sounds great and it has a fantastic title! I loved reading Booking Daughter's thoughts - I bet she's a great friend to have!

Beth Kephart said...

Oh, to share these moments with your little one.

Beth F said...

It is so hard to resist the enthusiasm. I read a lot of books because my niece is so excited about a book and just needs to share.