Friday, May 24, 2013
Review: To Be Maria
Check out Deanna Proach's Amazon page here: Deanna Proach
Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress but she's faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn't have any money to support her. At school, she's bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping-stone to stardom if she's accepted by her peers.
All of this changes when Maria Hernandez--an immigrant from Spain--comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She's assertive, confident and she dresses suggestively, characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent.
When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy's rude comment sends her into a rage.
Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks and aggressive confidence that they can't resist his friendship. They don't know that Alex's gang is at war with a rival gang--one that's run by Anya's older brother, Adrik--until one incident puts their lives in danger's path. To make matters worse, Alex won't let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that's a matter of life or death.
The best way I can think to describe this book is "that escalated quickly." To Be Maria starts out as a novel about a poor girl trying to make friends with the popular crowd and get started as an actress. It ends...very far from there. I get the point; the book is an after school special-type cautionary tale about getting involved with the wrong people, with a completely unforeseen religious twist at the end. However, it comes across in the same way shows like Degrassi do, trying to fit too many teen problems into one small episode. Add to that the similar naming of two main characters and the unexplained use of present tense, and readers end up a bit...confused.
I saw where the author was trying to go, and I agree that it's an important message. I just think the story could be pared down a bit. There were too many issues, too many points of view. However, if you're an Ellen Hopkins fan, this will be right up your alley. It's a quick, if confusing read and a convoluted story.
Until next time, happy reading!