I will admit to judging this book by its cover. A book where a girl is sticking her middle finger (Is it still your middle finger if you only have four?) at everyone? This book had to be written with someone like me in mind.
I cracked open the book while my kids were cooling off at the local splash pad (judge me all you want, they were supervised) and immediately I was hooked. I could related to little Oksana on so many levels. She was sassy. She had problems listening to her parents. She doesn't want a little brother.........
-I need to squirrel out here for a second. Throughout the book, Oksana's mom seems to be constantly pregnant. Every time the reader is given the clues to guess Oksana's mom is pregnant, the readers is also told that mom still drink and smokes. I understand that this book starts around 1992. However, Oksana's parents are intelligent people. Her dad was a physicist in Russia and mom is an accountant. Even in 1992, we knew that smoking and drinking while pregnant were bad. As the 90s progressed, Oksana's mom continued to get pregnant. My problem is that, as someone who grew up and went to school in the 90s, I know the information about smoking and drinking while pregnant continued to increase. We were constantly told during high school health classes that smoking and drinking while pregnant would lead to bad things. They lived in America. They went to American doctors. You can't tell me that no doctor pointed out that after several failed pregnancies, maybe you should stop smoking and drinking while pregnant. I'm done with my squirrel rant now. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
Anyway, Oksana should have instantly became a girl I could invite into my home and share a glass of wine with. Especially once she got to college. I am going to need a little bit more information about how she could graduate from Duke and move on to higher education with all the abuse her liver took.
Now Oksana is a full-fledged adult. If you thought all of her questionable choices were behind her, you would be wrong. You get the the end of the book and Oksana has learned nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. She did not develop. She did not mature. She did the same shit she had always done and there never seemed to be any real consequences. It seemed like no matter what kind of stupid decision she made, she always ended up with exactly what she wanted in the end. It is really hard to root for a protagonist like that. In Oksana's defense, it is kind of hard to see any kind of change or development when your author writes a book that's more like a new short story with every chapter instead of a cohesive, flowing novel.