Castellucci, Cecil. Boy Proof. Candlewick, 2006. ISBN 0763627966. 208 pp. $8.99
I didn’t get a copy of this ARC at the ALA midwinter conference, but the publisher kindly sent me a copy when I emailed them. Basically this is a Cinderella story about identity. Prickly Victoria (aka Egg) proudly eschews mainstream fashions and pop culture and prides herself on her enigma-loner status, but when a transfer student who turns out to be her academic equal arrives and makes friendly overtures, she finds herself responding in spite of her best efforts to disengage. Formerly only interested in movie star Zach Cross, Egg is confused over her jealousy when Max starts dating a rival classmate, and later still, hurt when he tells he doesn’t have feelings for her because of her detached personality.
Egg’s motivation for insulating herself against the male population is unclear. Divorced parents, habitation in youth-focused Hollywood, and insecurity are all factors, but none of these seem enough of a reason for the tough outer shell that manifests itself literally as a cloak worn by Egg. Character development is strong – Egg/Victoria is dynamic and interesting, and her gloom and doom moodiness and pessimism ring true. Max is artistic, worldly, deep and hot. As Egg/Victoria changes, so do the people around her, or at least, her perception of them changes – which is very “teen.” The character development is very strong, and to put it simply, Egg is a kick-ass girl.
Once Egg embraces Victoria, she discovers that knowing and loving oneself are the keys to being lovable. To keep the book from becoming dated, Castellucci creates a fictitious set of actors and films for Egg to obsess over. The plot is sometimes too convenient and coincidental to be believed, and the outcome is predictable, but everybody loves a happy ending, and Boy Proof is no exception.