With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
I actually finished this book several days ago, but I’ve had a hard time coming up with something to say about it. I was going to only give this book a 2 out of 5 stars rating, but the last several pages bumped it up half a star.
This book was relatively short (240 pages) but it took me forever to finish…almost 2 weeks! I really liked the idea of the story, but it really just didn’t do it for me once I started reading. I thought for sure there would be at least several moments of laughter, but really it just took all the strength I had to finish it.
First off, I think the style of writing did it in for me. This book is written from diary entries by Danielle, a senior in high school with extreme OCD who doesn’t follow the rules of writing (especially in her English class.) I really wanted to like Danielle, I swear. But everything about her felt…forced. She didn’t sound like a typical teenager, which I suppose was the point, but it just felt way too fake even if that was the approach to her character. I think Danielle had less OCD and more social awkwardness; I’ve known people with cases of OCD, so to me Danielle appeared to just have trouble with social situations, as she didn’t really have any way that actually depicted her dealing with her OCD. But I’m not a doctor, so I can’t really say what typical behaviors are for someone with OCD. But I digress…
The title is a bit misleading in a way. I thought the cover was extremely cute (yes, I judge a book by its cover), so I went on and decided to read it. It even had great reviews on sites, like Goodreads, but I’m baffled as to why there were so many positive ones. If you don’t know, The Dude is from the movie The Big Lebowski, a rather popular cult movie. I’ve only seen it once, but my boyfriend quotes it quite often, so I decided to pick it up based on what I knew about it. Plus, I’m on a bowling league, so the bowling ball drew me in. Really, the movie didn’t play any type of a role until the very end; it wasn’t even mentioned until more than half way through the book. I feel like it’s kinda of misleading putting something like that in the title when it really doesn’t add to the book until you’re almost done with reading it.
I wanted to like the characters, but they were all so obnoxious. I started to actually care about Danielle during the last few pages of the book, as that was when you find out why she’s the way she is (awkward I mean.) She’s surprisingly been through a lot, which can give enough reason to develop anxiety or awkward tendencies. However, she just seemed like she was perfectly fine with not dealing with it and would rather be the outcast that she claimed she was.
Another issue I had with the book was that it jumped around all over the place. The entire book (all 240 pages of it) took place during Danielle’s senior year. Yes, I realize that a lot happens in a year, even if it was just a school year, but it was just constantly bouncing around; it made it very hard to keep up with what happened when and where. Because of this, there were a lot of holes in the plot…like the fact that she attended an alternative school for those with disabilities (like her OCD.) However, it seemed like all of her classmates didn’t have any kind of disabilities, so what was the point of including that detail in the story? Unless it was meant to be about her social group that she was forced to attend; if that were the case, some clarification would have been nice. This book could have really been great if it tackled the deep and dark issues that it attempted to convey, but fell flat on its face. I hate to say that and I feel really bad that I just didn’t like this book, but I have to be honest, right?
I will say that I enjoyed the relationship between Danielle and her aunt, Justine. Justine acted like Danielle’s therapist, one that Danielle actually would talk to. The relationship between the two of them continued to develop throughout the book and I feel like Justine really helped Danielle become less awkward through the advice and discussion she provided for her.
There was so much about this book that if it had been worked on a little bit more, it really could have been a great book, especially for bringing to light some serious topics. If Danielle had been developed a little bit better, this book could have been great; forget that the other characters were a little lackluster as well, but if the main character had been better, the book could have thrived on that.