Stretching My Genre Limits

Standard

See this cover? This is so not my kind of book. Even hubby said so when he saw me reading it.

I mean, you can say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” all you want, but I much prefer the argument that judging the book is sort of the point of the cover. A cover with detailed art of dragons and sword-wielding heroes is meant to appeal to those who like high fantasy; a cover with a sexy, cleavage-bearing woman swooning in the arms of a muscular hunk is meant to be recognized as Harlequin romance. (They still make them that way, right? I haven’t seen one in a long time, not since I discovered my grandmother’s stash.) Covers are meant to indicate what kind of book it is. 

And a cover with bright-pink-or-purple cutesy fonts is meant to say, “Read me if you love all the drama of scoping out and scheming ways to catch hot boys in high school.”

I rolled my eyes at that stuff even while I was in high school. I mean, I liked boys. I had my share of crushes. But I had little patience for the sagas that so many girls seemed to crave. In fact, I hung out with mostly guys because of the simple fact that they didn’t show up at dances with their mascara running because some other girl had stolen their heart-throb and they didn’t rush over and huddle around the mascara runner anxious to be involved in and know every detail of the drama.

But here’s the surprise of the week: I loved this book.

The premise hooked me before I ever saw the cover. It’s about a high school senior who drops her phone in a fountain and suddenly the only person she can call is her freshman self. And since her senior self (code name: Ivy) just got dumped by the guy she’d wasted three and a half years on, ditched friends for, neglected school for, etc, it feels like the perfect opportunity to convince her freshman self (code name: Frosh) not to make the same mistakes.

Even though I could see pretty early on what the resolution would have to be, it was so much fun to read through all the twists along the way. I loved all the characters and loved watching them experiment with new identities throughout the book (high school was definitely that way). I loved the immediacy of the consequences, how Ivy would tell Frosh to change something and instantly Ivy’s present became completely different, sometimes for the better but often for the worse.

And I loved the message that balance is the life lesson of the day. That’s sort of my motto, too.

Plus, this book didn’t have the things I expected from the genre. It wasn’t about clandestine make-out sessions or back-stabbing girlfriends or any of that drama. It was just about navigating the hairy-scary teenage years when so much (college, friends, even graduation) is riding on your decisions.

In conclusion, I’m glad that I stretched outside my genre comfort zone. I should do it more often, perhaps. I’m sure there are gems in every genre, and maybe there are even whole genres I’ve misjudged.

What about you? Read anything outside your usual genres lately? How did it go? Do you believe in judging a book (or at least its genre) by its cover? What are some books you’ve loved whose covers totally didn’t look like something you’d be into?

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