Author: Sarra Manning
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Adorkable is the type of novel that will most definitely be read in the distant future, but not because of its writing quality or sheer brilliance, but because of how utterly modern it is. I can imagine children reading it in history classes, struggling to understand the concepts of Twitter, Facebook, and Website Blogging all while being caught up in Mike and Jeane's unforgettable story. While I expected a cute and quirky romance from this book, I was given an expose on modern technology, insight into the life of a lonely child, and a crash course on the importance of being different - all qualities that made me love Adorkable far more than I had originally anticipated.
Jeane Smith is that kid in school – the one who speaks out in class, shoves her opinions down your throat, and dresses in a manner that can only be described as strange. Yet, Jeane revels in her uniqueness and is known internationally for her blog, Adorkable. Mike Lee is that guy in school – the one who has a loving family, excellent grades, girls throwing themselves at him every chance they get, and will probably will the superlative for “Most Likely to Succeed.” Mike and Jeane have absolutely nothing in common – that is, until their significant others dump them for each other’s significant others – and all of a sudden, their non-existent acquaintance becomes something they simply can’t – and won’t – avoid.
Adorkable is a book I was squealing over when I finally got my hands on it, but as I continued to read, I felt strangely disappointed with its story. Jeane and Michael’s love story unfolds in a manner that I didn’t find wholly satisfying – first kissing, then some conversations, then sex, and then true friendship and acceptance. Nevertheless, despite that, I also found that I couldn’t connect with Jeane – she was simply too out there, too outlandish, and too different for me to empathize with. Yet, as I kept reading, as I kept discovering more and more about these two people and their complicated lives – especially Jeane’s – I began to sympathize with her. I’ll admit it – a lone tear fell down my cheek during the last fourth of the novel and my eyes seemed to be endlessly watering.
In all honesty, I think I was the most surprised by this reaction. I didn’t think I was invested in the story – but I was. I didn’t think I could understand Jeane, and although I still can’t completely understand some aspects of her life, I can empathize with her. More than a cute love story, Adorkable is a carefully constructed look at what makes people the way they are. Jeane acts, dresses, and comes across as the person she is because of the difficult circumstances that have shaped her life. She is a tough character to like, but Manning’s writing creeps up on you so slowly that you don’t even realize when you’ve begun to like her. Although Adorkable was told from alternating perspectives, what really made this novel stand out to me was that the reader understood Jeane at a different pace than Mike did – and that was okay. It was better in fact.
The friendship between these two also grew slowly and was practically nonexistent until you truly looked for it and realized it was there. That is the true beauty of friendship – a relationship that exists but isn’t acknowledged until you truly try to find and define it. Furthermore, Jeane’s character development and understanding of herself – as well as others – was something I found was integral to the overall themes of the novel. I loved the messages that Manning was able to bring out in her simple story and I believe that they need to be heard by everyone. Although it seems as if Jeane often overshadows Mike in this novel, I thought his presence and perspective was equally as important (although it seemed only to be used to offer the reader with a more common POV as well as a romance angle). Thus, I found that I loved the shifting personalities between these two and enjoyed seeing how their interactions somehow fit despite their differences.
All in all, Adorkable is a cute love story – I never said it wasn’t – but more than that, it is an insightful outlook on what drives people to be different and how important it is to never shy away from who you truly are. In the present world of internet, twitter, and blogging, it can seem as if the friends we make online aren’t true friends, but Manning shows us that they are. I think that, more than anything else in the novel, rang true to me as I am a blogger and have my own tight circle of online friends –some of whom I am closer to than my school friends.
Essentially, Adorkable is packed with imperative themes and messages, but most importantly, it is packed with quirkiness and fun. It is an adorable read that I would recommend to anyone looking for some light reading, but it also satisfies the mind of those looking for thoughtful contemporary novels. In other words, it was a unique breath of fresh air.