Very was raised by her single mother, a carefree woman who moved her daughter all over the world for much of her young life. Her mother's sudden (but not completely unexpected) death landed Very with her great-aunt Esther, who has a fondness for knitting odd sweaters and a disdain for swearing. After being homeschooled (or worldschooled) by her mom for much of her life, Very did very well in high school and scored a scholarship to Columbia, but during her first year at college, her addiction to all things technological - she is rarely without her laptop, her iPod, and her iPhone - has gotten in the way of real-life relationships and harmed her academic record.
The first half of the novel brings readers into Very's life just as things are coming to a boil, now that Very has allowed her grades and other obligations to fall far down her list of priorities. Her friends and academic advisors stage an intervention that sends her off to ESCAPE (Emergency Services for Computer-Addicted Persons Everywhere), a 28-day-program in Vermont where the second half of the story takes place. Not only does this book remind us of society's ever-increasing dependence upon technology for communications and connections, but it turns out to be a surprisingly real coming-of-age story as well.
Few YA books currently tackle the transition between high school and college; Very LeFreak does, and does it well. Populated by a cast of contrastive and often eccentric characters and led by the very memorable Very herself, Rachel Cohn's newest novel is one to recommend to older teens and twentysomethings, who will find both humor and reflection in its pages.
How had civilization existed before the camera phone? How did one even pass time before instant electronic gratification became imprinted into human evolution? - Page 45
You could take the song out of her ears by taking away her headset, but the song remained the same: always in her heart. - Page 190
. . . [T]his disaster that had landed in her lap like a tiger and not like a kitten. - Page 260
The very last line, which I won't reveal here.
Author Spotlight: Rachel Cohn
Interview: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2007)
Interview: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2006)
Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens
Booklist: Set in School + Transition Times