Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) Book Review

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn’t have.

Front Flap

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

As the quote suggests, this book involves a lot of bad decision making. There is a girl, April (our narrator), and she is given the choice of moving out of town with her dad and his new wife or staying with her best friend, Vi. You can basically guess which she chooses. Through an elaborate set up of fake emails and redirected info, both Vi’s mom and April’s dad are sure that things are going to be great– until it becomes a game of “what my father doesn’t know.”

Through the course of one semester, April and Vi live in this house alone and it was suprisingly funny to watch them both grow up. Despite the fact that April is our main character, Vi becomes equally important becuase she’s one of those “just do it,” friends that pushes April to her limits. It’s not that April was a goody-goody (because she wasn’t) and Vi corrupted her; rather, April fed off the freedom and exuberence of both being alone and being with Vi. But as the story progresses, you start to learn about Vi’s problems and she becomes less of an instigator and more a sympathy point.

Either way, these two were great. Sometimes I check out these teen stories because I want something light and funny to read. A lot of the time, it’s the same old story and I’m not very impressed. But every now and then, I stumble across a good one and this was one of those times.

It wasn’t that this story was that far off from the norm. The characters are just two pretty girls and some boys, the setting average and  it’s almost too ridiculous to be true; Ican hardly imagine a setting where Vi and April’s plan would actually work. But I think what really seals the deal with YA realistic fiction is getting the voice and mindset of a teenager down, and this is where this story shined.

As the narrator, April sounded straight my the hallways of my school. She wasn’t a cliche. Sure she was pretty, but she wasn’t one of those “Queen-Bee” types that are so overdone. She wasn’t a sheltered girl. She wasn’t a nerd. She just was. You can a lot about her from what she does rather than descriptions of herself. She likes to party. She cares a lot about the people around her. She values loyalty and trust. She is scared of change. I think that kind of information is much more rounding for a character rather than just vague words like pretty, popular, or smart.

Her voice was seriously funny. There were times when I had to put the book down and just laugh. I love it when an author has me giggling. It’s always a great time. I think the fact that this happened is in part due to the fact that the story, like I said, had a true teen’s voice.

Aside from being an entertaining character, April had her share of problems and I thought maybe you could draw a little lesson out of this if you wanted to. After reading the front cover, my friend said the message would be “don’t have fun,” and that would be dumb, but that’s not how I saw it at all. More like, your actions have consequences. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, but you should always be aware that nothing just happens. Because April did some wild things, some silly things, but she also did some sweet things and some right things. She wasn’t just a girl in a house with too many choices to make, but a girl who tried to do what was right and balance that with what she wanted. I figured it was a good message-like thing.

April’s problems also had a romantic side. She had a boyfriend. They wanted to take their relationship to the next level, the non-abstinence level. But April worried as many a teen might. Was it the right thing to do? Was she ready for it? What would happen next? April ends up chosing to go ahead with it which, depending on the reader, may or may not have been the right choice. But her fears and her decision to do it safely and the way she handles what comes out of it were I guess a slight push in the right direction for teens who may be facing the same issue.

These past two paragraphs, well the reason I decided to talk about this stuff was because it was nice to read a book that didn’t hit you over the head with a message-hammer. I pretty much sat down and thought about these things, but if you didn’t want to, you didn’t have to see what I saw. It was refreshing to have a nudge rather than a push in terms of adults saying what to do.

Another thing I really enjoyed with this book was reading a romance that wasn’t a love triangle. Yes she’s got a boyfriend, and yes there are some better looking guys around, but they’re not all throwing themselves at each other and getting all confused. It was cute, it was funny, but it was definitely not mopey and whiney.

I dont’ often mention this kind of thing because it reminds me of english teachers, but I also really liked the organization of this story. I thought it perfectly suited the passing of time, the characters flashbacks and reflections, and also her voice and thought patterns.

It’s definitely a PG-13 book, so children and parents alike, you’ve been warned.

Basically, this was a book I really enjoyed and would have flipped through another time had I not needed to return it to the library. I love a good high school story and this was everything I wanted. And then some.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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