Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian's 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World. And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane's boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common - she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can't she stop talking to him?
I've been in a mini reading slump over the last week or so and wasn't getting on with the book I was reading so picked up Adorkable from my tbr pile just to read the first few pages. I was completely hooked and read it off and on through the day - finally finishing it in the early hours. Jeane's voice is very unique and she's in that strange under-populated land of characters that I like despite my efforts not to. Jeane's vocal, opinionated and a huge success. However, she's also vulnerable, intelligent and completely alone. The thing about Jeane is that outside of school she's a blogging phenomenon living the kind of life that most kids would kill for. However, in school she's a loner with only her boyfriend Barney for company. Her outrageous dress sense gets her noticed and she's renowned for arguing with teachers but she doesn't have any actual friends.
Enter Michael Lee whose girlfriend Scarlett is obviously smitten with Barney. He attempts to let Jeane know but instead they get into an argument. Suddenly, as their respective relationships crumble, they start meeting up for snogs. They don't talk or want anyone else to know but eventually they realise they have to acknowledge that something is happening between them and so their relationship changes. I'm at a loss to know how to explain how much I loved this book. Both Jeane and Michael are flawed in different ways. They say and do the wrong thing, treat each other badly but then try to be better. They lie and then regret it but are also brutally honest with each other. As we get to know more about them and their lives away from school we can understand and empathise further.
Sarra Manning doesn't shy away from the real stuff. Jeane is a result of an awful home life which is revealed little-by-little as the story unfolds. Michael and Jeane appear to be opposites but there's much more depth to both characters. Michael is no knight in shining armour. He judges Jeane purely on her appearance and does the whole Mr Darcy, "I like you against my better judgement," thing. But still I found myself willing them together. The sex scene is cringe-worthy in its realism and I applaud the author for that. The scenes between Jeane and her parents are seriously depressing and I defy anyone not to feel for her and excuse all of her behaviour after the heinous Garfunkel's scene. Adorkable also addresses huge issues like being different, identity and self-worth, peer pressure and feeling comfortable in your own skin. It does this through the power of Jeane who is probably one of my favourite characters of the year.
I'm not doing this book justice at all so I'll stop burbling and just say that I heart Adorkable, that I want to read everything by Sarra Manning as it was a heartbreaking, beautiful and magical book.