Daily Archives: July 11, 2010

Gimme a Call

by Sarah Mlynowski

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

One day near the end of her senior year of high school, Devi accidentally drops her cell phone into the fountain at the mall – the kind where you toss in a coin and make a wish.  As it falls, she is thinking how great it would be if she could call her younger self and warn her about all the mistakes she’s about to make.  When she retrieves the phone, the only person she can call is herself at the beginning of freshman year.  Much advice ensues once both versions of Devi understand what’s going on, and they also come up with convenient nicknames for each other – to keep their situation seemingly benign to eavesdroppers, but also to keep the reader from being too confused.

Of course, though the advice is well-intentioned, and starts off fairly generic, it soon narrows to be very controlling.  Senior-year Devi sees results in some cases immediately and calls “Frosh” to yell at her, but eventually Frosh has to make her own decisions and be her own person.  I thought the book would end naturally when the phone’s battery dies, but though it drags on a tiny bit, it comes to a better conclusion eventually, and leaves with a hook for a second book, if Mlynowski wants.

The advice given is solid and younger Devi ends up with a much better, well-rounded high school experience, rather than the one older Devi had – friends and activities, helping her friends find their niche, being a better student, all rather than making her boyfriend the center of her universe and letting everything else drop off.  One of the immediate changes that older Devi sees is the college acceptance letter on her bulletin board – it goes from community college to Harvard and back, with stops in between until younger Devi eventually changes her behavior to compromise and they are both happy with the result.

Having spent an hour or so talking with a high school junior the other day about her plans for college, I have to say it’s refreshing to think about high school students really thinking about what they want out of college instead of doing it the way lots of kids (myself included) do – just apply wherever and have your parents help with the decision and hope it works out, figuring out the rest of your life later.  I like the idea of this book helping teenagers be a lot more active in their education and thinking about what they want out of life, and I definitely don’t think high school is too early to get into these habits.  It’s possible to enjoy being a kid and thinking about these things at the same time.  And I will step off my soap box now.  Go read this!