Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck is a YA (Young Adult) novel about a high school senior named Daisy who is determined to find a date for the prom, despite her low social status. In an often amusing story, Billerbeck shows that she’s in touch with teen culture, even if her tale derails at the end.
Daisy Crispin lives in a world controlled entirely by her parents, who do not permit her to date or talk on the phone to boys. They have committed her to marriage by courtship. Not only that, but Daisy is forced to wear clothes homesewn by her mother to her elite Christian high school in California. As if that isn’t bad enough (I mean, her clothes alone practically spell “social outcast”), Daisy feels invisible at her high school and her church youth group. Despite her circumstances, Daisy has hope that she will make it to the crowning event of her high school experiencer–her senior high school prom. She records her thoughts on prom, potential dates, and the like in her pink, frilly prom journal.
While I thought this book might mirror my own Christian high school dorkdom, it was far from my own life. In fact, my small school didn’t even have a prom; we had a junior/senior banquet (no dancing) and a dress code that eventually matriculated into uniforms. As far as I’m concerned, Daisy has it made, except her for the fact her parents don’t allow her to experience any sort of freedom in Christ. Daisy’s eccentric parents change their attitudes towards the end of the book with little explanation, which just seems like poor plot planning. Also, while the book appears to be a whimsical read, cutting is mentioned and there is a huge plot turn involving roofies and implied date rape. Is this a serious book or the equivalent of chick lit for teens? I don’t know because the “serious” parts seem terribly out of place putting a dark backdrop on a pleasant little read.
The truth about life as a Christian teenager, like cliques and bullying prove that Billerbeck knows teens. Yet the plot derails towards the last third of the book, which is a big disappointment for this reader. And the characters don’t seem all that realistic. Even as a teenage girl and youth leader, I never met boys who were quite so open with in declaring their feelings to girls, especially weird girls. Daisy’s best friend, Claire, seems more like a mean girl than a gal pal. Plus, how did these kids not get expelled from Christian school for throwing a wild party that involved both drinking and drugs?
Even for a YA book, Perfectly Dateless is entirely unbelievable with a shoddy plot development and undeveloped characters. And this is the thing—the book started out great; it just ended poorly.
Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Amy’s Grade: C-
*With thanks for Revell for a review copy of this book!*