Bookshots: 'Notes to Boys (And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public)' by Pamela Ribon

Bookshots: 'Notes to Boys' by Pamela Ribon

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:

Notes to Boys (And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public)

Who wrote it:

Screenwriter and author Pamela Ribon, who already has several bestselling books to her name.

Plot in a box:

In a mostly funny memoir of her 1990s-era teens, Ribon recounts the hardships of being a pubescent writer with too much word vomit and no internet trash can.

Invent a new title for this book:

Wherefore Art Thou, Adolescence?

Read this if you liked:

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Meet the book's lead:

Little Pam is like any other thirteen-year-old girl...who writes two-hundred-page notes to boys. More than once.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

Eden Sher from ABC's The Middle, if she dyed her hair blonde. She's so adorkably irritating, but you know she's going places, and you wanna go along.

Setting: would you want to live there?

Um, no. Let me rephrase that. HELL no. There's racists, bullies, bigots, book-burners, and boys who don't write back. And I thought my high school was hell!

What was your favorite sentence?

Life. It's pretty much bullshit. Brought to you by the number fifteen. 

The verdict:

There’s basically two main characters switching perspective throughout the memoir, although they’re ultimately the same person. Grown-up Ribon narrates us through her early ‘90s journey as Little Pam (LP), the wannabe writer who kept copies of the copious letters she sent to every teenaged boy unfortunate enough to look her way—and sometimes even to those who never did. Here and there we get sprinkles of (mostly bad) poetry and short stories. You can’t read too many chapters in one sitting, either because you feel too embarrassed at LP’s follies or too overwhelmed by flashbacks from your own adolescence. If you were ever a teenaged girl, at least.

Ribon’s a comedian at heart, so most of the book is funny, with just enough heaviness to remind you that you’re reading a memoir, not a Disney Channel script. There are some dark moments, although Ribon mostly glosses over them in favor of focusing on the more widespread embarrassments of adolescence. There were a couple places where this became an issue, because in our culture of rape and bullying, it’s no longer okay to play down the inflated feelings of angst that go along with the teen years, especially for young girls. But if you can get past the one suicide joke, in particular, she does get serious on the issue later on.

The letters are reported as-is, so there’s loads of distracting [sic]s in the way, and Ribon can’t help interjecting commentary every other sentence, leering at each of LP’s imperfections like a nitpicking mother. I remember being a teenaged girl struggling to be heard, and I just want to scream at Ribon, Let the girl speak already! But it’s just because Ribon’s made me see myself in LP, so that even while I’m annoyed by the girl I want to hug her and tell her everything will be okay, that I love Siamese Dream too, that I miss my K too, that we all find our Nice Boy one day and so will she.

So ultimately I enjoyed the book, and I rooted for LP even when I wanted to slap her. The last quarter of the book is the best, so hang around for the payoff.

Image of Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public
Author: Pamela Ribon
Price: $17.59
Publisher: Rare Bird Books (2014)
Binding: Hardcover, 264 pages
Tiffany Turpin Johnson

Review by Tiffany Turpin Johnson

Tiffany is a young adult novelist represented by Annie Bomke Literary Agency, and operates TJ Writeography, a freelance editing and writing service. Tiffany lives in Atlanta with her husband, dog, and two (sometimes three) kids. When she's not glued to her Apple family or chasing things around the house, she likes to read, crochet, play piano, ingest vast quantities of Cadbury eggs, and marathon Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns. Find her at www.fictiffous.com and on Twitter at @Fictiffous.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.