Shredded - Karen Avivi Actual rating: 3.5

So when I was in high school, I took Speech and Debate. It was my favorite class, as you can imagine, and one of the requirements was that you had to compete in an actual competition to get a good grade. So we'd travel all over Arizona to compete.

I loved it. I looked forward to competitions more than anything else. Well, one of the competitions was set up during my annual Halloween party. I don't know how it got started, but out of all my friends, I hosted the Halloween party.

I figured hey, no big deal. We'll go to the competition, not place like always, and come back down in time for the party. The debate topic wasn't something I was comfortable with, and while I loved the monologue I preformed, Valerie's letter from V for Vendetta I had just started with it.

I qualified. In both events.

So I had a choice to make. Did I stay and see what I could do, in something that I devoted a large amount of time to, or did I go back home and play hostess?

My friends all understood when I told them I was going to stay. They knew how much speech and debate meant to me. My mom, on the other hand, was furious. I left her with my group of friends at a party I was supposed to be hosting. Nevermind that my group of friends were all in the top 10% of our class, the straightest of straight lace.

I placed second in both events. Out of thirty debate contestants and more than fifty dramatic interpretation contestants, I got silver in both. It stands as one of my proudest moments where I finally had validation for my effort and ability to think quickly.

Mom always looks at those medals with a silent sort of disdain. If I ever bring up Speech and Debate, she never brings up my medals. Nope. It's the one stupid party.

Anyway, what I mean to say is that parents are stupid sometimes. There's always that moment where you did something amazing in high school that they have a completely different take on. We've all had those moments where you excitedly tell your mom that you're going to be an English major and she looks at you and says "Well, sweetie, what happens when that novel of yours doesn't work out? You need a backup plan."

Shredded is going to bring all those memories flooding back.

Shredded is a book about girl BMX rider Josie who wants to compete. She loves BMX, wants to take it seriously, and goes into a competition. Have you ever seen a sports movie? Well, a sports book is a lot like that.

I want to say that this is a good book. Seriously. I just butted heads too many times with it though, and it left a sort of sour taste in my mouth.

First, this book does not hide the fact that it's about feminism. What happens there is that because the book is so blatant about its message, it has the ability to make a lot of missteps. To me, it made nearly all of those missteps.

I am a feminist. A very vocal, unapologetic feminist. I get pissed when I go into a clothing store and I can only find five pairs of women's slacks and fucking millions of men's slacks. I work in a professional environment, dammit, and I don't like wearing long skirts and I don't like tights!

With feminism, you've got all kinds of different ideologies. At the beginning of the book, Josie equates femininity with weakness. She even explicitly states that she doesn't want to have a "girly" reaction in front of the guys?

Dafuq is a girly reaction? Are we clutching doilies?



You're preaching to me about standing up for women kind and saying that because the bike frame is girly, you desperately want to repaint it? Listen, I get it if you have a tom boy character. I was a tom boy when I was little. The problem is that this book is preaching feminism. You can't demean your gender and also preach feminism.

I typically don't like preachy books as a whole, but feminism in young adult I'll definitely get behind. Have you seen the kind of BS they're trying to pull with our gender lately? Hell yeah let's take it back!

The problem with preachy books though is that it now makes everything see through. What I mean by that is, you start to suspect or identify everything as a device to further the message. It feels less organic. Most of all, I felt this way with the characters.

All of the characters fit pretty nicely into cardboard cutouts. They aren't complete cardboard cutouts, but they don't much deviate from it either. Josie's the girl with a chip on her shoulder, she grew up with the boys, got dumped by one of them, now she wants to compete. Alexis is the pretty girl who cares about boys and doesn't take things too seriously. Miguel is the supportive friend. Troy is the douche brother. Gianna was the born-again housewife (?). Connor was the worst offender of all though, only appearing when Josie needed some revelation about what she should do.

Even if the message weren't so obvious, the characters so device-like, I still didn't really care.

What were the stakes in this book? If she didn't compete, so what? Josie had a large following already. If she didn't win, it didn't matter. I mean, it mattered, but it didn't. Yeah, we wanted to see her beat the boys, but even if she didn't, she proved she could get up again.

So, in the end, why should I care? As a reader, I've already seen Josie be better than the boys. What's keeping me reading to the end? There wasn't much in the way of tension.

Family situations were a bit bizarre too. Josie keeps accusing her parents of not being supportive, but I really don't see it. I would have killed to have parents throw me a surprise party for when I did well in a competition (For the record, I love my parents, but I am a writer so we have our hangups). There's a ramp in your backyard!

Also, the family situations for the other characters...why are they even really mentioned? Is there a sequel, because if not, they're never really explored. Not one teenage character is happy with the level of support they get from their parents, but Josie's are the only ones really explored.

Now, I gave this book 3.5 stars because this is a good book, it's just not a good book for me. Go look at Litchick's review! She loved this book and I can see how she can love it. I just didn't have enough to keep me interested or propelled in the story.

In all fairness, I don't do contemporaries all that much. I'm more life or death stakes sort of girl.

I still want people to read this. The message needs to get out there about feminism and I really like the BMX approach to it. But personally, this book and I just didn't get along.