Title: Going Vintage (2013)
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 320 pages
Review: When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, she decides to de-modernise things. She swears off modern technology. She plans to sew her own (vintage-style) homecoming dress. She forms a pep club. All this, inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in the 1960s. Quite an interesting idea? Well, perhaps.
I’m not the biggest fan of Going Vintage, I’ll admit. Mallory is… well, she’s a teenage girl. She has punk and she has heart, but it’s hard to sympathise with her when she’s occasionally outrageously self-centred and constantly chooses to make things harder for herself. Some of the other characters, on the other hand, are endearing enough that you can’t help but to worry about them instead. I like Oliver, with all his natural easygoingness, and I love Ginnie for being who she is… I just wish she was our narrator instead.
Now, onto the more serious stuff. I don’t like how the premise sounds like Mallory is blaming technology for Jeremy cheating. No, honey, if your boyfriend cheats on you, he’s the problem, not the way he cheats on you. Technology or not, a cheater will cheat on you anyway, and nothing you could have done could change that.
I also don’t like Mallory’s mum, and wow, it’s honestly surprising that Mallory and Ginnie are as mentally healthy as they are. Her breach of privacy is terrible, terrible, terrible parenting, and it should have been addressed more instead of swept under the rug. And her attempts at showing her care?
“Mallory, did you give a piece of yourself to this boy? It only takes one bad act to ruin a girl’s reputation.”
No, no, nope. It’s one thing to worry for your daughter’s well-being and think it’s something to do with her boyfriend; it’s another thing completely to assume it’s because she ‘gave a piece of herself to a boy’ (read: sex) and furthermore imply that sex is bad, that doing it will make her ‘lose’ a part of herself and ruin her reputation. That is so appallingly backwards and just… no. Mallory’s mum left a very bad taste in my mouth and I really, really wanted her to suffer consequences for what she did or to take back that sexist, misogynistic statement of hers at least. Alas, neither of those things happened.
Going Vintage isn’t a bad book, necessarily; it’s just that some things left a bad taste in my mouth. There are so many things going on at the same time that the plot, overall, is distracted, and not much is resolved at the end—or if it’s resolved, it seems to be hurriedly so.
There are some really heartfelt moments in the book, however, moments where I actually liked and identified with Mallory. This novel deals with heartbreak, moving on and finding yourself—three very real things that I think most people deal with at least once in their lives. All in all, Going Vintage is easy entertainment if you’re feeling blue—just don’t take anything in it as the law.