Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

I spent last weekend in New York, visiting a friend from undergrad. It was a much needed vacation and on the bus ride up there I finished Past Perfect, the new book from Leila Sales. When I got off the bus I handed Sarah the book and said "Oh em geeeeeee, you should read this now. While I'm here. Because it belongs to the library and I have to take it back with me on Monday, but also because you should just read it now." So in between awesome New York things like going to shows, really good takeout and staring a little too long at the ODB mural in her neighborhood, Sarah and I hunkered down to read.

Past Perfect hits a lot of my sweet spots; Leila Sales is a master of dialogue and in between all the general romantic angst of YA books there is some serious discussion of ice cream. A great model of female friendship, a cute but not too cute boy and some seriously pearl clutching swoony times on a trampoline all make this a sweet and addictive read.

But here's the best part: the book takes place almost entirely in a COLONIAL REENACTMENT TOURIST ATTRACTION VILLAGE! And most of what isn't in the Colonial Village, is at a CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT TOURIST ATTRACTION! I spent so much of my time in college and grad school dreaming of getting a gig as an interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, it's not even funny. I love the idea of reenacting Civil War battles and I always, always wonder (just like Chelsea) who would willingly volunteer to play the loosing side. I mean, it always ends the same. Even if you truly believe that the South will rise again, it certainly didn't then.

The second best part of the book was the war. I freaking love a YA book with a good war in it. I think it started with Jellicoe Road, but nothing emphasizes the heightened reality of mundane moments that YA is built around like a war that is all consuming and ever important, but that the adults can never ever know about. This war, between the junior interpreters at the Colonial Village and their counterparts at Civil War Land, is a pretty good one. It's mostly based around sneaking anachronistic things into the enemy's camp, which is played for laughs, but there are serious moments too that ramp up the tension between our star-crossed lovers. (Of course there are star-crossed lovers, did you think there wouldn't be? Have you ever read YA before?)

As Sarah and I lounged around her apartment reading, we quickly adopted a shorthand way of talking about the book- "Oh Dan Malkin." "I know! So great, right?" "So Dan Malkin." or "Ezra!" "Right? Just wait, it gets worse" "Ezra, Ezra, Ezra." "Talent is a turn-on. Sa-woon". Her roommate couldn't participate in conversations with us because lines from the book became our reference points. Especially that one about talent. Sa-woon for reals.

Past Perfect succeeds at almost every turn; it's fun and infectious, well written, given to inside jokes and not thinking too hard (except about ice cream, which should always be taken very, very seriously). Which, really, is exactly what Sarah and I wanted from a book in our hunkering down, reunion filled weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Leila Sales' really knows how to make me laugh, and I thought Past Perfect was just as fun and entertaining as Mostly Good Girls. This definitely makes the list of my favorite 2011 releases and I am dying to know what Leila will write next!

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