Confessions of a Teenage TV Addict by Ellen Leroe
Berkley/Pacer, 3rd printing, 1986
Synopsis & Review: Sixteen year-old Jennifer Warrens attends an all-girl private school by day, and watches TV by night. Well, she watches TV whenever she can, even if that means sneaking a portable into class, watching the soaps at the electronics store during lunch, or avoiding social activities to catch The Love Boat Christmas special. In short, she’s a TV addict. But over Christmas vacation, her parents surprise Jennifer with the announcement that they’ll be allowing her to enroll in public high school with her popular best friend Andra. Though hesitant to change milieus, Jennifer finds herself swayed by the super attractive, super popular Mike Randall and forges into a new life. At Mike’s persuasion, Jennifer joins the Drama Club, and is soon on friendly terms with another popular guy, Rob Fine. Though Jennifer enjoys her new life, it’s soon apparent that someone doesn’t. Jennifer’s locker is vandalized and she receives ominous notes. Soon things are more dramatic than Jennifer’s favorite soaps; will she even need to tune in to them any more? I have no idea where this book came from, but it’s been in my collection of YA books for years. I don’t think I own any other Berkley/Pacer books, at all, while other publishers (Point, Avon, Dell, Scholastic) fill my shelves. So it’s a bit surprising that this volume would have lasted when others didn’t–though I suspect at least one box of books went missing int he move to the Mainland, since there are some I cannot find that I wouldn’t have intentionally gotten rid of. When I Googled the author Ellen Leroe, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she went on to publish a number of other books, including Have a Heart, Cupid Delaney, which I remember fondly from fifth or sixth grade. This was her first effort, and it shows–but not badly.
If anything, Confessions is a bit too short, too slight for my tastes. Leroe touches on quite a lot: parent-child relations, sibling relations, parental expectations, toxic friendships, burgeoning young love, and so on. Things happen unbelievably fast as Leroe tears through Jennifer’s changing life at top speed, but I suppose that small defect could make it more palatable for a young audience. Characterizations are for the most part good; Jennifer is a bit whiny and passive, but basically an authentic shy teenager. Leroe does a nice job of making her humorous and genuinely self-deprecating, and depicts the kind of resentments adolescents suffer. Jennifer also grows throughout the book, from a hopeless naif to one we can hope for. Mike Randall is a little too perfect, too sensitive and insightful for most high school boys, however. He’s a Jake Ryan: unbelievable, but dreamy.
Overall, Confessions is a satisfactory, if slightly dated YA romance. It’s a quick read with a lot of humor and genuine insight.
Cover: I need to fix up my scanner for this one; it’s been so long out of print that I don’t think more than a dozen people still have a copy. Not a bad cover, though; it depicts Jennifer sitting on her bed staring intently at her TV. She’s moderately pretty, and the bed is very Eighties.
As if from a deep, dark region, maybe 30,000 leagues under the sea, he pulled himself back to the present and grunted. I didn’t know where he had been mentally, but he obviously didn’t want to be here with me. And all right, a grunt is better than nothing, but try holding a two-way conversation with just caveman sounds and see how far you get. Suddenly, I was angry again. I didn’t want to be here any more than Rob did, probably less, but at least I was making an effort. I raised my voice and yelled at Rob, “Excuse me, but I didn’t understand you. Did that grunt imply a yes or no to my question?”
That got his head turned around. When he faced me, I could tell he was shocked by my question and the obvious hostility in my voice. The faraway look on his face dwindled quickly into embarrassment, and he shuffled around a little in the chair. He mumbled some apology about not hearing me clearly (quel lie!) and then bounded out of his seat to snatch an album Mike was studying.
End of conversation.
16 July – 17 July