On the surface, April is living every teenager’s dream. When he’s transferred to Cleveland, her father allows April to live with her good friend, Vi and finish out the year at school. She’s got a great boyfriend and they’re finally ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Of course, in reality things are slightly different. April soon finds out that her visions of wild parties, endless freedom and lots of time canoodling with the boyfriend are in sharp contrast to the realities of living with her friend and maintaining the illusion to her father and others that there is some kind of adult supervision taking place in their lives. Add to it that at the time when she and her boyfriend should be feeling closer than ever, he’s more distant than ever before, except when he’s jealous about April’s new guy friend.
The premise for “Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have)” isn’t exactly a new one. We’ve all seen those special episodes of various TV shows where teens are left home alone and all hell breaks loose. The story opens with April’s dad coming by for a surprise visit the morning after a huge party and April trying to figure out how they can clean up in time and how they got to this point. The novel then unfolds, filling in the details of how we got here and the good and bad decisions made along the way. (Good decision: trying to work out a way to stay near her friends for the last part of her junior year. Bad decision: Buying a hot tub).
As a narrator, April brings an authenticity to the story that could be lacking. While the reader may pick up on clues that something is off with her boyfriend, April quickly tries to find ways to gloss it over and write it off. April’s voice sounds like an authentic teenage girl and Mylnowski never allows the situations or temptations facing April and her friends to stray too far from what could happen in the real world. The journey April takes as she realizes things about herself and her family is a fascinating, compelling one. Big props to Mylnowski for creating an authentic, believable, compelling and flawed character for the centerpiece of this novel.
That’s not to say the book is perfect. But it’s enjoyable enough with genuine humor and funny moments interspersed with serious, grown-up moments in which April and her friends must make some big calls and live with the consequences.