January 5, 2017

Pasadena - Sherri L. Smith

Title: Pasadena
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Pages: 240
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads rating:
About: Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.
Now everyone is a suspect—family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own.

I'm not gonna lie, I picked Pasadena because it was short.  Once again, I was at the end of the year staring down my Goodreads goal and it didn't look good.  My sister gave me a stack of stuff to pick through and I started with this one.  I didn't expect to love it, but I probably should have known better.

Jude is 3,000 miles away when her best friend Maggie is found dead, floating in her family swimming pool.  So Jude does what most people would do - she packs up her summer plans, heads home, and tries to find out the truth about what happened the night Maggie died.  She picks her way through Maggie's friends looking for clues, but comes to find that no one really got all of Maggie, even though she got most of them.

I couldn't help but think of Veronica Mars while I was reading.  The California setting, noir feeling, and cast of characters threw me right back into that world.  Pasadena (in my head at least) had a lot of the feeling of "An Echolls Family Christmas."  When all of Maggie's friends gather for dinner at the beginning it is so reminiscent of the poker game from that episode.  Jude going to the friends individually parallels Veronica investigating the stolen money.  What I'm trying to say is someone watch Veronica Mars with me right now.

Maggie is one of those larger than life characters that you come across sometimes in YA.  She's the girl who is totally inventing herself through clothes and attitude alone - which is in part why Pasadena had the cloud of toxic friendship about it.  Jude clearly thought of Maggie as her best friend, but did it go both ways?  Is Jude just another of Maggie's play things and she didn't even know?  But Smith takes the time to peel back the layers of Maggie through Jude's memories.  In addition to unfiltered clove cigarettes, sunglasses, and little black dresses she's revealed to be complicated and caring and the glue holding the people around her together.

I feel like some people may have trouble with Jude.  She's blunt, sarcastic, and she completely doesn't give a shit about what people think about her.  She needs to get to the bottom of this and doesn't care who she rips apart to do it.  She has dark shit in her past and a bad relationship with her parents.  She has unlikable female protagonist written all over her and I completely loved her.

This book is so many parts in such a small package, and it all totally works.  It is a story about girls, about friendships, about teenagers that contain multitudes.  It's Veronica Mars meets Pretty Little Liars meets something a lot nicer than both of those shows.  It's YA noir, probably at its best.

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