Release Date: November 2003
Pages: 352 pages
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #2
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
Three girls. Three boys. One of them's a total psycho.
It's teenage life as it really feels. Only funnier.
The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program was designed to bring together the "lowlife Brooker kids" (as they're known to the Ashburyites) and the "rich Ashbury snobs" (as they're called by the Brookfielders) in a spirit of harmony and the Joy of the Envelope. But things don't go quite as planned. Lydia and Sebastian trade challenges, like setting off the fire alarm as Brookfield. Emily tutors Charlie in How to Go One a Date with a Girl. But it's Cassie and Matthew who both reveal and conceal the most about themselves - and it's their secrets and lies that set off a war between the two schools.
Thoughts on The Year of Secret Assignments
I bought this book because I liked the cover (the nail polish!), thought the summary sounded interesting and it was $1.99. When I looked it up on Goodreads and saw a five-star review from Mandy @ VeganYANerds, I was even happier that I made this spontaneous purchase. And then I read it and was totally shocked by just how much I loved the book!
Three Reasons to Read The Year of Secret Assignments
1. The Composition.
The Year of Secret Assignments is written as letters, diary entries, emails, lists, school notices... and it totally nails the epistolary format. It's not always my favorite type of book to read, but Moriarty absolutely won me over. I loved how clever and creative it felt. I think the format also made the book very readable and fast-paced, which was perfect since I was reading it beachside.
The entry format reveals so much about the characters and their relationship with one another, so I quickly grew to love each new thing I learned or discovered while reading. The characters' voices were all so unique - I never once had to flip back to remind myself of who was writing since the book includes six different perspectives. Moriarty definitely had a clear picture of who her characters were and how they spoke/wrote. As a reader, it just made me love them all the more.
If I had one complaint about this format, it would only be that I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was reading a hard copy of the book. Things don't always look right on a Kindle when the book relies on non-traditional formatting.
2. The Characters.
The three girl characters go to Ashbury, and the boys go to Brookfield. In an attempt to improve relationships between the two schools and remind students of the power of letters, the girls' English teacher creates a pen pal program. Each girl is paired with a boy from Brookfield, and the letters begin.
As I already mentioned, each of the characters had a really unique voice and personality. I loved getting to know them better! Even in a book that juggles so many perspectives, the characters all had depth. They were relatable, hilarious and such fun to spend time with. I love the friendship between the girls - how they take care of one other and tease each other.
And then there's the banter in the letters. Seriously, this book is heavy on the banter, which I adored. The girls are all witty and smart, and the boys are quite the charmers, too. Well, there's one that's not... but you'll see!
3. The Crazy.
Finally, I really loved the little stories and adventures that run through the letters and other entries. From pranks to lessons on dating, there's some hilarious and silly stuff that happens. It made for such a fun read! But there's also a serious aspect. A secret identity and a hurtful trick lead to a mystery and some hijinks in defense of the wronged friend. While I still would have loved the book without this conflict, I think it made it all the better to see the friends rally to protect one of their own.
So, be prepared for some shenanigans and craziness to ensue! Because you don't want to mess with these girls or there'll be hell to pay.
Just trust me!
I wasn't expecting a ton from this book, so I was completely caught off guard by how charming I found it. I realized later it was actually book two in a series, but I immediately fell right into the story and never felt like I was missing out on important information. If you want something light, funny and unique, I'd definitely recommend this book!
"For a start, I think I have this idea that I can do anything by writing. Like I can be myself if I write letters, and I can help my friends if I write Secret Assignments. Like I can change things, punish people, fall in love, and find myself, all by writing the right words. Maybe I'm just hiding behind the words?"