Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Cure for Crushes by Karen Rivers

Haley Harmony is neurotic, a hypochondriac, and by her own confession in The Cure for Crushes by Karen Rivers, “a bad girlfriend.” This isn’t Haley’s first appearance. She made her debut in The Healing Time of Hickeys. In this second novel, Haley spends an inordinate amount of time, crushing on inappropriate boys (her friends’ boyfriends, the concession guy at the hockey rink) and a lot of time worrying about why she isn’t really into her current and only ever boyfriend, Brad who comes across as the best thing since sliced bread. She is also a tad over the top when it comes to online research of the symptoms of various diseases she is sure she is suffering from (migraines, anxiety disorder, diabetes, brain tumors, etc.). And, she is hair obsessed and is constantly growing, cutting, dying or angsting over growing, cutting and dying her hair. In fact, hair is one of the five regular category entries in her ongoing diary.

But that isn’t all. Haley is as list obsessed as she is hair obsessed; so much of her diary is list heavy. Being a little list-obsessed myself, I loved it, and Haley. Reasons to be in a good mood, what to get her father and boyfriend for their birthdays, what she is afraid of, symptoms of above mentioned ailments, possible but unlikely careers, reasons detention sucks, reasons why she is friends with Jules even though Jules drives her crazy, and of course―things that she did instead of studying for finals. These are just some of the lists that appear in Haley’s diary. While Haley might drive you crazy, you can’t help but love her. She is hysterically funny in a self-depreciating sort of way, and manages to get herself in trouble more frequently than not.

Excruciatingly self-conscious teenagers are hardly new material but Rivers does a superb job of capturing this angst-ridden time of life. Rivers uses humor to take some of the sting out of turbulent waters of high school life, but perhaps what The Cure for Crushes does best is let all the Haley Harmonys of the world know that they are not alone.

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