Title: Signs Point to Yes (2015)
Author: Sandy Hall
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 288 pages
If only Jane’s Magic 8 Ball could tell her how to get through the summer. With her “perfect” sister, Margo, home for her “perfect” internship, Jane is not going to be able to spend the summer writing fan fiction, as she had planned. And her emergency babysitting job requires Jane to spend the whole summer in awkward proximity to her new crush, Teo, a nerdy-hot lifeguard with problems of his own.
With his best friend out of town, Teo finds himself without anyone to confide in…except Jane. Will Jane and Teo be able to salvage each other’s summer? Even the Magic 8 Ball doesn’t have an answer…but signs point to yes.
Signs Point to Yes opens with Jane getting a job at a neighbour’s house babysitting three little girls. Eventually she meets the girls’ older brother and also a classmate, Teo, who is friends with Ravi, a guy who has always hated Jane. With three main perspectives, there are three main conflicts at play here: Jane with her need for self-acknowledgment that she’s not an idiot (seriously), Teo with his search for his biological father, and Jane’s sister’s Margo with her bisexuality.
You can perhaps tell from my rating that I didn’t really enjoy this book. I found it contrived and shallow, with not much happening. There is conflict, but not really. There are characters, but they’re not really fleshed out, nor do they develop throughout the book. There are countless dialogue, but they are rather mundane and pointless that I questioned the need for us to be listening in to all these conversations.
Additionally, various kinds of conflict were brought out but never really explored, making the whole story anti-climatic. Ravi hates Jane, but when we finally discover why, the reason is barely justifiable and so, so childish and immature, I literally want to reach into the book and strangle him. Margo struggles with coming out with her bisexuality to her parents, but this issue too was barely developed. Teo resents his mother for not telling him about his father, but when push comes to shove, nothing really happened.
I’ve said time and time again that I’m not a big fan of books with multiple perspectives and Signs Point to Yes just reminds me exactly why: because these different points of view really just overcrowd the story and distract from the actually important parts. It feels like Hall just couldn’t write enough for Jane’s or Teo’s storylines that she had to supplement the whole book with Margo’s problems, too—except Margo’s problems had no connection whatsoever with Jane’s or Teo’s and simply felt like filler chapters. The mid-chapter perspective switches don’t help, either; it’s just highly inconsistent.
The other problem I have with this book is the writing style, which was somehow really stilted in tone, with too much telling and not enough showing. Character A does this. Character B does this. Character A then responds by doing this. It’s dry, it’s dull, and it’s way too choppy for me to actually immerse myself in the story. The ending was a bit of a disappointment too. It was awkward, abrupt and left too much unexplored for me, which is kind of my general opinion of the book as a whole anyway.
That being said, there are also some good things about this book. The conflicts that Jane dealt with—understanding yourself, fighting for what you want, feeling stupid—are things that I think are familiar and relatable, and I like her whenever she’s standing up for herself. Margo is kind and cool as an older sister. Teo, when drunk, is really kind of cute and so much less awkward. These things just aren’t enough to make Signs Point to Yes a positive read for me.