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Radiant Shadows

40 Things I Want to Tell You

40 Things I Want to Tell You - Alice Kuipers The biggest thing going for 40 Things I Want to Tell You is its realism: Bird is put through the ringer before a glimpse at a happy future is shown. Her decisions come back to haunt her, and her friends don’t let her get away with her self-indulgence. And when the biggest mistake of her life changes her life forever, you know there’s no going back. Some of Bird’s decisions left me frustrated or confused, and the odd European slang choice threw me for a loop, but I mostly found myself enjoying 40 Things I Want to Tell You, despite its flaws.Bird was a hard protagonist to like. Her online alias, “Miss-Take-Control-Of-Your-Life,” was the exact opposite of who I envisioned Bird to be: other than writing a few to-do lists at the beginning of 40 Things I Want to Tell You, and being told by her best friend how predictable she was, Bird was never in control. She was oblivious to the growing tension between her parents, oblivious to the missing chemistry between herself and her boyfriend, Griffin, and oblivious to what it means to truly be someone’s friend. She lied – to everyone – under the pretence of not wanting to hurt anyone, and then would head home and give advice to a teen about being honest! She was judgmental, basing her opinions of Pete off of the gossip floating around school, and she had no backbone, letting everyone walk all over her. It wasn’t until she was abandoned by her friends and disowned by her father, with her lies having finally caught up to her, that I began to feel any type of connection toward Bird.BUT despite my inability to connect with Bird for much of 40 Things I Want to Tell You, I found myself captivated by her story because of how real it seemed. Every time Bird made the decision to withhold the truth about Pete from Cleo, every time she kissed Griffin and thought about kissing Pete, every time she ignored her mother’s calls, I cringed, knowing that so many teens – myself at her age included – were just like Bird: too scared to be honest, for fear of the repercussions. So while I berated most of Bird’s choices, I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t have done the same thing in her situation (except for the park scene; I mean, really?).The pacing for 40 Things I Want to Tell You was okay; I wasn’t flying through the pages, but I also wasn’t putting it down in boredom. What bothered me though, was it’s hints at being European; the characters seemed quite Westernized until out of the blue, they would use a European word, like “knickers” or “mum.” I also took issue with the doctor’s reaction to Bird’s request for a pregnancy test. He told her that at-home testing was pretty accurate these days, so he wasn’t going to bother with blood work. Umm what? While I’m sure over-the-counter pregnancy tests are accurate in most cases, there’s always room for error with them – especially when dealing with hormonal teens; why wouldn’t he just run a simple blood test? For as much as I’ve congratulated 40 Things I Want to Tell You for its realism, this was a moment where I was pulled out of the story completely, because of it’s seeming inaccuracy.Fortunately, Bird’s ending was almost perfect. While she was able to wrap up all the loose ends of her fractured life quite conveniently, it was also done in a way that showed her growth as a character, which I appreciated. She confessed to her mistakes and tried to repair the relationships that she had damaged with her dishonesty. Best of all, her friends did what friends do best: they reminded her that their relationships weren’t ever going to be the same, but that they were willing to move past everything that happened, and forgive her. But it wasn’t all rainbows for Bird; there’s one person who she didn’t come clean to in time, and…you’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens