//by Sandy Hall//published 2014//
Okay, so I have to say right out of the box – I actually enjoyed this book. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to categorize it (YA???), but it’s a super adorable little piece of chick lit, well-written, and so sweet it almost sends you into a sugar coma reading it.
Which, in my mind, is exactly what chick lit should do. This book does a really fantastic job of being funny, cute, and engaging, without a whole lot swearing or shagging. It also manages to dodge the insta-love ploy, building up a love story that actually seems completely plausible.
A Little Something Different is written, as the cover says, from multiple viewpoints. These viewpoints are from all sorts of random people/objects/animals who see the two main players of this little love story (Gabe and Lea), around campus. Some of them are close friends and relatives, others are people like a bus driver and a barrista at the local Starbucks. Everyone can see that Gabe and Lea are perfect for each other, but they’re both super shy and awkward, and just don’t seem to be able to get their relationship off the ground.
This book was surprisingly (in a good way) wholesome. It was just so nice to read a story where everyone is likable and no one is trying to normalize substance abuse or make fun of virgins. Although Lea’s friends come up with some fake ids so they can get into some local bars and do some drinking, even that has a little caveat –
“I take it the IDs worked well?”
“They did! Though I don’t know, I feel like something gets lost in translation by not waiting until you’re twenty-one.” She shrugs. “I’m not sure how often I’ll use mine.”
It’s not a big deal, but somehow Hall conveys, throughout her story, the beauty of letting things unfold naturally, of waiting, of patience. In a day and age where everyone seems so anxious to rush to the next experience, it was genuinely refreshing to read a love story that valued a slower pace.
That’s not to say that this book was without its flaws. I really wasn’t all that interested in hearing the Bench’s thoughts on various butts that sit on it (really? As a kid, we were never allowed to say the word “butt”, and it still just smacks of juvenile absurdity to me every time I hear someone use it), or the Squirrel’s passionate raptures about acorns; while their observations did provide a bit of insight to the story, they really just came off more as cutesy filler to me.
There was also a lot of similarity between the voices. While overall Hall did a decent job of making different characters sound different, several of her characters were similar, and thus their voices were similar. Gabe’s brother and Gabe’s friend, in particular, sound a lot alike.
The story is in first person present tense, which I rather hate as a general rule, but it works in this story because there are so many different voices. Thus, the story is wherever the action is, and present tense works because I don’t have to hang out listening to the boring bits of someone’s life in between actual interesting story-moving points.
Overall, I really enjoyed the upbeat message of the story, and the way that everyone was rooting for Gabe and Lea, but not in a weird, pushy kind of way. This is a happy, easy-going book – a perfect evening relaxation. 4/5.