Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'd Rather Be Broke

She's So Money
Cherry Cheva
Harper Teen
Reprint 2009

Let me say what I like about She’s So Money: love the cover art and the story takes place in Ann Arbor (one of the coolest college towns on the planet). That’s all.

I have been seething for days about why I dislike this book. Let’s start with Camden. He is an asswipe with a capital A. He’s also the school hottie. He sleeps around, drinks, drops sexual innuendos almost non-stop and he can’t be bothered with doing schoolwork. Being responsible is so uncool like why would the hot, rich kid even think about anything other than having fun? Initially, I thought Camden’s character was literary device, satire. Nope, the story isn’t that kind of deep. Maya, who might as well be the completely flat and predictable Asian girl, says in one breath that Camden is repulsive and in the next is secretly swooning over him. In one scene, he kisses her because she so wanted it and who was he to deny her the gift. She not only blushes but she has this eternal dialogue about the significance of their relationship. What the frack!

And it only gets better. Camden drags her by her backpack, tells her to get in his car, drives like a maniac (she weakly protests and he responds by jerking the car, increasing the risk of getting into an accident or hurting her), picks up food (the middle age cashier is equally smitten and gives him extra fries) and booze, makes a bee line for the family hot tube, strips to his boxers and tells Asian, geek girl to get comfortable and ‘tutor’ him. A six-pack is enough to make a sane, intelligent girl who knows how to speak up, become a blubbering idiot and a helpless victim to a sexist, self-absorbed moron? This isn't cute or funny. Getting naked in front of a girl you just met is suppose to be a turn on? I think it's compromising. For some, it's enough to say hell, go with it a get naked with him.

And then there are the completely, implausible scenarios that support Maya and Camden’s deeper entanglement. Maya screws up one night at her family restaurant and the next morning, she gets a $10,000 fine from the health department. She decides to take advantage of Camden’s stupidity and accept his outrageous offer to pay her an insane amount of money for tutoring. Now how much reality do you want a reader to suspend here? I’m suppose to believe that two disgruntled customers wield the kind of influence that get the health department to send an inspector the following day (why they were upset is too stupid to even repeat)? I get being scared and desperate, but who thinks she can raise that kind of money tutoring? Earlier, Maya the all-A student freaks out about a test that she’s sure she failed because she didn’t study the night before (come on, an average student knows while taking a test whether she knows the material or not) and this same student who didn’t have time to study for this test becomes the master homework whiz for half a dozen students and starts raking in the cash? Later she enlists friends but that’s not the point.

I loathe damsel-in-distress stories. And even though she originates the tutoring scheme, Camden is the guy with the real plan (pass me the bucket). We don’t need saving and we certainly shouldn’t have to stoop so low to look to guys like Camden to save us. As adults, women will cluck their tongues about other women who end up with losers but I’ll argue stories like She’s So Money is a good example of when the conditioning begins. Are we so attention starved that we want the guy who alternately talks smack about our itty-bitties and then calls us hot? Camden is the kind of guy who will do almost anything wearing panties. I can’t help wondering if he wants to add an exotic Asian to his list of conquests and that’s why Maya is hot. Why are we okay with being objectified, and should we talk about when Maya plays the schoolgirl vixen in order to get a better tip? I wanted to smack her.

I’m not anti-guy or anti-romance or even anti silly comedy. I am anti: girls can’t think straight just because a guy is good-looking, that a smart, articulate girl is so desperate to right a wrong that she thinks a jerk can help her solve her problems, that a girl who has plans and the brains to succeed, will shrink her shirt and flirt for a dollar. I’m a bothered by the reality that a lot of readers will look past or worse say Camden is just being a typical boy. This book has done very well, and it’s done well in part because of lot of readers don’t simply like that Maya is feisty, they’d like to bounce in Camden’s car if they could. Who doesn't want the fantasy that the bad guy is really a good guy we can get? And that is disturbing most of all.

I swear I tried to finish this. I read a ton of reviews that swear this was good. I continued to skim and I get why it's liked but it doesn't work for me.

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