By: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: May 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 2009
Bella Kirkwood is a child of privilege. Her father is a distinguished plastic surgeon who gives his daughter everything she could possibly want. Bella goes to a private school, has great friends, parties at the best locations, and shops with daddy’s credit card. But Bella’s extravagant lifestyle is about to come to a screeching halt when her parents get divorced. Bella is forced to follow her mother to Oklahoma where her mother’s new husband waits. Life in the country is certainly nothing like New York City and Bella is horrified, rebellious and emotionally lost in her new surroundings.
Bella and her stepbrother Birdie immediately butt heads and continue arguing and fostering resentment towards the other for just about everything. Her new stepfather is, in Bella’s eyes, mysterious and up to no good. She does her best to unravel her new family in the hopes of returning to New York City. At the same time, forced to attend the local public high school, Bella starts making friends. But those new friendships dissipate when an old blog entry of Bella’s surfaces. When Bella’s art class is disrupted because of snide comments from the other students, the school counselor has Bella switch to working on the school newspaper.
Bella reluctantly works on the paper with Luke, the hunky editor with a bad attitude. Forced to take unpleasant assignments, Bella accidently stumbles upon a plot that involves the football team. Will Bella be able to convince Luke that there is a story to pursue? Will she ever make any friends? What about her new family? How will she ever adjust to her new life?
Told in the first person, present tense, Bella has a strong, and opinionated, voice. Conversation, both hers and everybody else’s is mixed with her observations. When confronting her new stepdad about his curious early morning departures from home, Bella says,
“I know.” I shake my head in disgust. “I saw you leave this morning.” The jig is up dude. “I think you owe my mother an explanation.” And then we’ll be packing our bags and getting out of your way.
Bella’s witty comments throughout the story help develop her character and keep So Not Happening moving at a brisk pace.
Bella is a likable character, and one that teens should be able to identify with. In addition to the somewhat spoiled aspect of her per-Oklahoma life, there are many affable qualities to this teen. She’s a bit self-deprecating, and winds up in many humorous situations, such as when she meets a cow up close for the first time. But then when said cow, who happens to be the pet of younger stepbrother Robbie, goes missing because of Bella’s carelessness, she goes above and beyond to find the cow.
On the back cover of So Not Happening, the author is described as a writer of Christian fiction and this book certainly falls into that category. The religious aspects of Bella’s life were not intrusive to the story and indeed, were kept to a minimum. There were plenty of times where Bella would say a quick prayer, or mention the fact that the family was going to church, but there was no preaching from the sidelines. In fact, it was quite refreshing to read about teens going to parties where alcohol was being served and asking for soda.
Quill says: So Not Happening is a fun romp into the mixed-up life of a city girl gone country.