Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner
Sixteen-year-old Brynn Harper’s life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow. She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts drafting emails to Rachel but never sending them. It’s an outlet; Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with Sarah, her first serious girlfriend, about her beloved brother Nick’s death, her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.
But then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. She learns that one student representative will be allowed to have a voice among teachers and administrators in the selection of a new school superintendent. Sarah, along with Brynn’s arch-nemesis John, believe only honors students worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn knows they are more interested in power and perks. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position the knives are out and her brother’s memory and her new crush Michaela are shamed. Brynn asks herself: What would Rachel Maddow do?
Dear Rachel Maddow is a book told completely in letters/e-mail format. Most are from Brynn to Rachel Maddow, but there are a handful of others throughout the book, too. I wasn’t sure if this format would tell the story well, but it did a great job.
First for some warnings. While this book has a lot of humor, it also deals with some pretty major issues. Drug abuse/overdose, death, parental abuse, and bullying. Also, a little bit on depression and suicide. There is also a lot of swearing which doesn’t bother me at all, but might bother some people.
Brynn is so easy to like. She has to do an assignment to write to an idol and she chooses Rachel Maddow. She watches her show and really admires her. It was fun to read some of the letters where she talked about Rachel’s show. There were little things that she noticed, like the circling on papers during the show. I watch, too, so this part was fun. Brynn is also so funny. She is also super awkward and just blurts things out without thinking.
“You are glorious in your perfection,” I blurted. Now Michaela’s face took on a berrylike tone.
But I wasn’t even done. “YOU ARE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY!” I shouted. She opened her mouth to speak. “I’M SORRY I RUIN LIVES,” I said.
Brynn has a pretty bad life. Her brother died two years earlier from an overdose. After that, her grades started dropping and her mom either ignored her or was super mean. Her step father is a horrible human being. I honestly hated him so much. Then her girlfriend, Sarah broke up with her. And she didn’t have a high enough GPA to be on the school paper anymore.
Her teacher, Mr. Grimm, is amazing. His comments on her letters made me laugh a lot, but he was also so freaking caring. Everyone deserves a teacher like him.
“But you have more passion and drive than most people. I’d hate to see that all go to waste. In case no one else have ever told you this, Brynn, I believe in you.”
Brynn decides to try some political work in school. She wants everyone to have a voice and she can’t stand the only guy running. She doesn’t want the honors students getting to decide everything. She has some pretty great friends who help her. And she also meets a girl, Michaela, that she starts dating. Things at home keep getting worse though and Brynn already has some low self esteem. She thinks she ruins everything. Luckily she has some people around her that care, even when her parents do not. Brynn really starts getting excited about politics and trying to change the world. She is extremely interested in free press.
“Mark my words, Rachel. I hate Westing High. But you’ve made me such a damn fan of telling stories and free speech and all that shit. If I can help try to protect it in my little shithole corner of the world, then I figure I owe it to you.”
Overall, this was a cute read with a lot of laugh out loud moments along with some serious issues. I was so happy that I got to read Brynn’s story.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for giving me a chance to read this early. I gave this book 4 stars.
All quotes were taken from an arc and may change before final publication.
Have you read Dear Rachel Maddow yet? Do you like books in e-mail format? If so, what were some others that you have read?