Sunday, October 24, 2010

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Seriously, what is so difficult about talking, communicating, expressing your feelings? There would be so much less trouble if people would just take the time to say how they feel.

Take Enthusiasm for instance. Julie is tall and shy. She is best friends with Ashleigh, the Enthusiast. Ashleigh has sudden bouts of enthusiasm that lead her to take up new hobbies and interests such as candymaking and bug collecting. After reading Julie's copy of Pride and Prejudice, Ashleigh's new interest is acting and speaking like Jane Austen, culminating in finding true love by sneaking into a dance at Forefield Academy, the local all-boys prep school.

The plan does not go off without a hitch, but the girls are rescued by Grandison Parr and Ned. Parr ends up being the Mysterious Stranger, the boy that Julie has been seeing around town, the only boy Julie would consider for a relationship. Both girls dance with both boys, and by the end of the night both girls are smitten. Julie is into Parr and Ned and Ashleigh are perfect for each other. Unfortunately, Ashleigh decides that her Mr. Darcy is Parr. Julie is torn because Ashleigh is her best friend, she is generous and always puts Julie before herself...but she is head over heels for Parr! Julie decides she must give Parr up for good, just for Ashleigh's sake.

That's really the annoying part. I understand that these girls are in high school and don't know everything about the world, but Julie could have told Ashleigh that she had a thing for Parr. Would there be some hair-pulling and nail-scratching? Maybe, but at least the truth would be out.

Moving on, Forefield Academy is staging a musical and needs some girls from the public school. Ashleigh decides this is the perfect way to get closer to their respective fellas. Julie reluctantly goes along with the Enthusiast's schemes, but it just gets harder and harder for her to be around Parr while still staying loyal to her friend. Sidenote, I didn't get Julie's "incredible love" for Parr when she really just saw him around a couple times, danced and talked with him a little, and that's about all. It's actually a little overly-intense and vaguely stalkery. Just like high school was!

Enthusiasm was cute and fluffy, but not exactly mind-blowing literature. There's traces of Jane Austen in the relationships portion. I always feel as though I know who will end up with whom in an Austen novel, but the fun is getting to that point. Secondly, I didn't expect to like Ashleigh much, but she seemed fun and sweet, really incredibly conscientious towards Julie. I relate more to Julie, the one who is quietly passionate. It's difficult to have loud, enthusiastic people around because it's so much harder for others to understand that you like something as well. You almost have to give up the thing you love or risk being seen as an imitator or copycat of the enthusiastic person. Not that I would know anything about that personally or anything.

Anyways, everything is resolved in the end. And just like in Jane Austen, happy endings abound.

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