Confidence: A True Teen Appropriate Book

Two months ago, Paige Lavoie asked me to pre-read her first book Confidence: The Diary of an Invisible Girl. I loved being able to read a book that hadn't been published yet - it almost felt like I was being devious by reading something that not many other people had!  Confidence is a YA novel and follows Barbara, an exceptionally nerdy girl, through her adventure of finding herself, discovering her group of friends, and navigating the life for a typical American teen.

After listening to a podcast on the state of teenage reading options, I thought this post would be a great way to start my takeover of the "Family" blog by providing a recommendation for our YA readers both young and old. YA has truly shifted in the past decade, and I feel as if there is a lack of books that are appropriate for our younger YA readers.  When I think of the YA books I read now, I cannot imagine giving these titles to Amelia to read in a few years when she is ready! Though I hate to sound prudish, I think there is a "bridge" missing for readers between Nancy Drew and Twilight.  There has to be some middle ground that covers teenage problems, but does not create more with the introduction of sex/drugs. This book is what I remember YA to be - no hidden sexual innuendos, no drugs/sex/rock and roll, but still a fun and fulfilling story that you would not mind your child reading. I can say that you may want to read right along with your child - It's a great YA book for those of us who are YA adult readers!

I would like to preface the remainder of this blog by noting that I read this book before it was published.  I do not know what edits have been made to the book since my reading.

When I initially received the plot summary, I thought it sounded fun "coming of age within the confines of Comic Con." I will admit that I was initially concerned that it would be a spin -off or similar concept to that of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, but I was determined to go into the book as a reader with no preconceived notions.  So, putting aside Rowell's story line, I dove into the book.

The immediate attention grabber lies within Lavoie's decision to write the book in the style of a journal or diary (hence the title of the book). I was not confident that I actually enjoyed the diary format at first.  I was concerned that it was a writing ploy to be able to write in a stream of consciousness style, but after a few "entries" I truly got lost and did not find the formatting a hindrance.  This format allows all of her writing to be immediately past-tense (for the most part) as Barbara writes about events that occured in the past 24 hours.  There is always a separation between the event and the time of writing which gives Barbara time to reflect (This sometimes works to her advantage, but sometimes this also adds to the "teenage drama" inherent in many YA novels).

After starting my journey into Lavoie's work, I wanted to know a bit more about the woman behind the book.  I learned that this book was actually the result a writing challenge where Lavoie challenged herself to write 50,000 words in a month.    I have a hard time sticking to month long challenges, but now I truly wonder what I could accomplish in a month!

A few tidbits:

  • Barbara is truly sharp. Her one-liners are spot on and elicited a audible giggle from me on more than one occasion.
  • There are a few times that Barbara seems too keen on proving her geek cred. The problem with this is since the book is formatted in a diary, she's proving her geeky-ness to a diary, not a person.  This means that some of her geeky rants and references to fandoms come off as forced rather than natural.  Once Barbara establishes her nerd cred in the beginning of the book, this problem fades almost instantly.
  • This is a "quick-read" book.  This won't require a ton of brain power, but that isn't always a bad thing!
  • This book covers teenage issues well which is why I though it was a great YA book for young teenagers.  Divorce, dating, crushes, confidence, etc. are highlighted in the book.
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Overall, I'd recommend this be added to your child's reading list if they live in fandoms. References abound to comics, Doctor Who, and video games.  Any nerd-in-training will find this a great read!

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