The give and the take of high school drama, or my review of Confessions of a High School Disaster

confessions of a high school diaster

Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary

By: Emma Chastain

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: March 7th, 2017

Format: ARC

synopsis

In the tradition of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a lovably flawed high school student chronicles her life as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in a diary that sparkles with humor and warmth.

I’m Chloe Winter, and my life is kiiiiind of a disaster.

On the plus side, I got the lead in the musical!

On the down side…

1. I’m a kissing virgin (so so so embarrassing).
2. My best friend, Hannah, is driving me insane.
3. I think I’m in love with Mac Brody, the most popular senior guy, whose girlfriend is so beautiful she doesn’t even need eyeliner.
4. My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m okay.
5. Oh, and my mom moved to Mexico to work on her novel. But it’s fine—she’ll be back soon. She said so.

Mom tells me everything is copy. So I’m writing down all the horrible things that happen to me in this diary.

This is the worst year of my life so far, unless maybe it’s the best.

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review

This was a book that I genuinely enjoyed reading. It was light and fluffy, yes, and I raced through it in a few hours, but they were entertaining hours. I felt like alternating between laughing and groaning at Chloe’s antics, which was what the book seemed to want to elicit. Chloe was quite relatable as a character, and she was surrounded by an entertaining cast of friends.

 

But, when I think of similar novels that I’ve enjoyed (Princess Diaries, for instance, or Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging), I feel as if Confessions is trying to muscle in on a niche market that’s already full. There were issues that strongly reminded me of one or the other–the parent-teacher relationship, or the messing-around-with-someone-who’s-taken dilemma. It made me wonder at times whether Confessions needed to be written, or if it was parroting too much from earlier works.

 

I also felt that when Confessions did do something original, like the gay best friend, it wasn’t very fleshed out. I wish Tristan would have been a character with more depth, because it felt like he had that potential. It was good to include him, but I felt like he was stuck in just for representation’s sakes–his struggles to come out were a very secondary issue throughout the book. Similarly, I think there could have been some interesting discussions about high school sexuality in what sounded like a very Catholic town, that got skipped over. I liked that they did discuss sex, but I thought it could have been done in a way that was more in-depth and, frankly, interesting.

 

The key plot throughout the book, though, is Chloe’s parents preludes to divorce. This was the thing that made the book worthwhile for me, and it helped put Chloe’s actions and thoughts into a muted context. But I also thought it was handled in a way that felt abrupt. There was a slow decline in their parent’s relationship (as it was) throughout the novel, and then a LOT of action crammed in almost at the end. And although I appreciated the prosaic ending, in the context of all of that action it felt very abrupt. I wanted more depth in how Chloe went from worshipping her mother to not speaking to her, and I thought that the resolution (what there was of it) was unsatisfactory.

 

I also appreciated how modern the book felt, and how it was already distinguishing itself from my high school experience (somewhat–Facebook was just becoming a big deal my freshman year). But I did also wonder somewhere about whether an actual teen would read it and relate, or just think that an adult was trying to parrot how they thought a teen would act. I think the writing was skillful enough that it dodged that bullet–but I’m also not sure about how this book will read in five years.
Like I said, I did enjoy reading this book. But so many things felt unfinished or shallow, and compared to my old favorites of high school diary novels, Confessions was disappointing.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. An advanced copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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