Anatomy of a Misfit

I keep a rather long list of books in both my library wish list as well as Amazon’s wish list. They get on the list through a variety of means, maybe I read about them in the New York Times book section, maybe someone tweeted about them, maybe I saw them mentioned in an article I read—but no matter how they get there, I usually don’t get to them until I’ve long forgotten how or the source. This is definitely true for Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes. It was on the list and available for digital loan at the library, so I read it over the past two days. It’s great.

A few notes first: it is a young adult novel, but I’ve been finding a lot of good reads in the young adult section lately and this one didn’t disappoint. In addition, this book, more than any I’ve read recently, took me right back to high school and all the good and bad of that era of my life.

What was a really pleasant surprise for me about this book was the tone and writing. A lot of the time when I’m reading, I get caught up in the story, but this book did that and I got caught up in the words. As I’ve said before, I’m reading a lot to learn about writing just as much as I am for entertainment or to spark ideas and thoughts.

I read the kindle version through my library digital loan program, so the highlights below are tied to the kindle location.

You try going to a school of Jennys and Sherris and Julies with a name like Anika Dragomir. (loc 109)

It started in first period, just a whisper, and now, just before lunch, it’s a crescendo where it seems like any second the principal is going to announce it over the loudspeaker. (loc 388)

We just keep our eyes on our Trapper Keepers and shuffle off to class. After the last bell, we slink away for our long and cruel walk home. (loc 406)

She’s putting the rump roast in the oven now, those funny little grandma-mittens with burn stains all over the place covering her hands. The print is mice on a farm. Whose idea was that? (loc 490)

Even though I am made of spider stew, there is a part of me that doesn’t mind feeling like this. Like maybe, maybe it’s possible I did something kinda sorta good. (loc 595)

We should probably lay off the cookies but don’t forget it’s getting cold out, so that makes it impossible, really. (loc 651)

And I may be just fifteen and don’t know very much, like maybe it’s kind of like I don’t know anything, but I know this—I am in serious trouble. (loc 715)

My parents are under the distinct impression that it is impossible to sneak out of my room. Wrong! I can understand why they think this. If it were anybody else, and not a criminal mastermind like myself living in this fortress, it would, indeed, be impossible. Here’s the thing: I specifically chose this room because it appeared to be impossible. That was my second move. My first move was to figure out that it was, actually, possible. (loc 794)

But I have seen a lot of movies and I think I get the general idea. Also, and I may be wrong about this, I think there’s a direct correlation between how much you like someone and how much you like kissing them. (loc 849)

Did you know there’s something called marijuana? Yeah, you smoke it and all of a sudden you grow long hair, eat Cheetos, and listen to Pink Floyd till your mother knocks on the door to tell you to clean your room, or at least wash your hair, or possibly consider doing something with your life. (loc 1077)

Whenever old people tell you “you had to be there” and the “sixties were groovy” or whatever, just listen to the words of my mother: “Oh, honey, most of those people were just idiots. Sheep, following along. Remember that. Whenever you see everybody clamoring in one direction, do yourself a favor, go the other.” (loc 1085)

We tried what? To have dinner with a black person? To pretend we weren’t just a household of generally crappy people? We tried to be less self-involved. We tried to look up from our dumb obsessions and notice other people. We tried to be open, for once. We tried not to be just another vaguely racist family. We tried to be enlightened. We tried to be good. We tried to be all of the things . . . we are not. (loc 1741)

Let’s just call it like it is, no need to pretty it up. I care what other people think of me. I’m not Jesus Christ. I’m just a girl in the world. (loc 2819)

Maybe all this time I was not the only freak in the family. Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And maybe that tree is sitting right next to me in giant sunglasses and a trench coat. (loc 3304)

And if I could, I would do every second of every moment over again if I knew the secret. You get one chance. (loc 3667)