Sarah's Stars

Randi Hacker. Life As I Knew It
Simon Pulse  $8.99  ISBN 978-1-4169-0995-8  233 pg.
Reviewed by Emma, Age 14

In the way that Scarlett O’Hara was not really beautiful, my father was not really handsome, but no one noticed on account of all the charm he gave off. You would think that because he was so charming, he’d have been really popular. He wasn’t. When it came to my father people either loved him or hated him—sometimes both in the same day.

Sixteen-year-old Angelina Rossini’s life is relatively normal. She lives in a small Vermont town with less that 1000 people, two post offices, a famous diner, and her parents. She loves Andrew Lloyd Webber, her dog, and her best friend—the tall, dark, handsome, and recently out-of-the-closet Jax. Relatively normal. And about to get shook up good!

Life As I Knew It is a good story—touching and original—but I struggled with the writing. The plot of the story is somewhat awkward, sprinting then dragging, but it seemed to work, and is enough to keep you coming back for more. Written in what I would call e-mail form (straight from the character’s brain to the page, complete with lengthy and entertaining teenage reminiscings), Life As I Knew It is refreshing, straight-up, and heartfelt. Also on the plus side, Angelina’s story is brimming with unique and captivating characters who—along with their outfits—add so much to this down-to-earth work.

On the minus side of things, Hacker has cast her novel in such a manner of modern diversity that it is almost frustrating, and the story, when looked back upon, is strangely unbelievable. But these two negative aspects are also features of the story I love. Angelina’s world and tale is so completely incomprehensible that… it seems true. In Life As I Knew It, Randi Hacker has captured an essence of everyday, over-the-top reality I have never before encountered in a novel, and don’t expect to again. Opposing all I have come to expect and to love, one author has brought stark tragedy and small-town miracle together into the jarring Life As I Knew It for four stars, and unprecedented respect.

Life As I Knew It is aimed at girls (and boys, I suppose) aged 11-16 with an open mind and a soft heart.

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