Life by Committee
Corey Ann Haydu
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: May 13th 2014
by Katherine Tegen Books
Some secrets are too good to keep.
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.
Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.
Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.
But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
Upon finishing Life By Committee all I can think of is that I am… indifferent to it. I breezed through the novel and did enjoy reading it, but I failed to connect to it in any way so it was a very passive experience. This is a bit of a disappointment to me because I was such a huge fan of Haydu’s OCD Love Story, but at least I did manage to enjoy the reading a bit.
I think my inability to really connect with the story was mostly due to the fact that I never felt like I got a real understanding for our MC Tabitha. Tabby was a very cold, closed off character. This attitude is really understandable in her story because of what she had been through. Her life long best friend randomly dropped her at a dance because she didn’t feel she was a good person and didn’t like how she had changed over the summer and that really left her with no one in her life. There is this weird judgey thing going on at Tabby’s school. Because she got pretty over the summer and started wearing clothes that were a bit more revealing she was judged pretty harshly. People thought she was a huge slut and that she was this boy crazy girl that she really wasn’t. I mean she had crushes sure, but it was nothing out of character for a teenaged girl. The reasoning for everyone in the school shutting her out was one that never really resonated with me because it was really silly.
A big part of the novel was the one relationship that Tabby did manage to maintain with her best friend Elise and this also failed to emotionally affect me in any way. See, I never felt like Elise was a good friend to Tabby at all so when they had their falling out I didn’t really care because it was kind of like, well, good riddance to bad rubbish to me. Tabby never felt like she could be honest with Elise (though Elise was honest with her about some pretty private stuff) but Tabby always feared judgment from Elise and to me that is not a quality I would ever want in a best friend. As far as love interests go, we are shown a mostly one sided relationship as Tabby pines for Joe, a boy at her school who already has a girlfriend. I didn’t much like Joe at all, I mean he was using Tabby and he was a cheater and that’s not exactly a turn on in my eyes. For me relationships and the way they are built and maintained is a large part of my enjoyment in a novel and that just wasn’t present here so it definitely left me longing for a lot more in that department.
We are also treated to a lot of family life in Life By Committee. This was one part of the novel that I did really enjoy. Tabby’s parents were very young when they had her and are now pregnant with another baby and wanting to do things differently the second time around. I did feel bad for Tabby as she prepared for the big change in her home life. I mean, being an only child for 16 years and then being faced with a new sibling is pretty huge in the life of a teenager. I also was left feeling pretty bad for her as she witnessed her parents intense need to “do things differently” for this second baby which left Tabby wondering why they felt they screwed up so badly with her. I mean I understood the viewpoint from the parent’s mind, they were young with Tabby and definitely didn’t raise her in the most mature of environments but I totally understood why it would hurt Tabby.
Through all of these changes and shut outs in Tabby’s life she ends up finding solace in a Life By Committee website after she finds the web address written in a used book. She gets immersed in this weird web where members tell secrets to the other members and are then given a mission to help them deal with it by the site runner. Some of the things these people do are hefty and I had a hard time believing people would listen to this random person from the internet as they fly around the world and make incredibly revealing things public.
Upon finishing this review my feelings toward the book are really no more clearer than they were prior to writing. This was definitely not one of my new favourites but it was interesting and kept me entertained all the way through. I do think that OCD Love Story was a much stronger story and I am still excited to see what topic Haydu tackles next.
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