A Little Friendly Advice, Siobhan Vivian’s fantastic debut novel, is blurbed on the back cover by Cecil Castellucci and Maureen Johnson. To some of you, blurbs may not matter, but for me, a book blurbed by two fantastic authors always moves higher up on the to-be-read stack! Which is good for the book, but it also probably raises my expectations, which could turn out to make me unreasonably disappointed.
In this case, however, those high expectations were certainly warranted! I absolutely loved A Little Friendly Advice. It’s a smart, funny novel that is mainly about people and their relationships (friends, love interests, and family). It all starts on Ruby’s sixteenth birthday, when her father shows up unexpectedly after years of being totally out of the picture. She was planning on a nice celebration with her mother and group of three close friends (her longtime best friend, Beth, her boy-crazy sometimes-outrageous friend, Maria, and the new addition to their group, Katherine), but all that goes out the window when Jim comes through the front door.
One good thing does come out of Ruby’s birthday, though: her mother has gotten her an old Polaroid camera, which she uses to document the events that follow. She realizes her best friend, Beth, has been keeping secrets from her, but with good intentions. She must make some difficult choices about her relationship (or lack thereof) with her father. A new guy steps into her life, Charlie; this is a new area for never-been-kissed Ruby! The friendship dynamics within her group are changing, too. The next few days are very eventful for Ruby, and it’s all a bit much for a girl to handle alone, and her friends’ advice may not always be for the best.
A Little Friendly Advice will ring true with readers; Siobhan Vivian’s sharp, engaging prose captures people and their relationships perfectly. Her characters are fully drawn and three-dimensional, and the story she tells is full of important truths. She understands that life is not always black-and-white, and people and their actions are not always clearly for the best or worst. Life is complicated, and Siobhan Vivian’s portrayal of that is honest and moving. She has quickly become one of my new favorite authors! Siobhan Vivian is a fresh new voice in YA literature, one to watch, and you should all read this book as soon as possible!