SWEET ON: The Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

I read a lot of Young Adult novels. I can’t help it. That ‘genre’ of books is just what I’m drawn to and I’m not sure that will ever change. I don’t really think I want it to. Lately, tweens and teenagers growing up have such a gigantic selection of books to choose from. I’m actually kind of jealous of them for the abundance of words and ideas at their fingertips.

Growing up, I don’t remember there being a whole section of a bookstore devoted to the genre. There was maybe one little18340210 (1) shelf for “Teens” and that was about it. The books I found were ones I scoured from the library. I’d check out the maximum amount at a time and burn through them. That’s just how I am when it comes to reading. I can’t get enough.

Which brings me to a YA book I just finished today. The Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes. I fell for the cover art while browsing around on my Kindle (that tends to happen a lot) so I decided to borrow it from the library, digitally. (PS: digital library loans were NEVER a thing for me growing up, and I’m so very appreciative of it now!)

So I started reading it and was totally charmed by the narrator, Anika. She’s a sophomore in high school who has a unique band of characters in her world:

  • A Russian vampire dad (no, not really a vampire – it’s just the way she describes him)
  • A very sweet mom living with a step-dad “ogre” (Anika’s words, not mine)
  • A slew of brothers and sisters
  • 2 best friends (one awesome, one horrid)
  • The love and affections of TWO boys. One’s an outsider dweeb turned moped-enthusiast, and one’s basically Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights, if Tim Riggins liked Metallica, I guess.

Anika’s not a perfect, shiny, happy girl. She claims she has a boy-jaw, she’s been secretly drugging her boss at the Bunza Hut (What a perfect name for a crappy burger joint you have to work at as a sophomore in high school), and she’s in love/lust with two different people. She hides her feelings, she doesn’t say enough, she agonizes over being in the popular crowd and she learns a lot of lessons in a way that felt so immensely accurate.

All the way to the end, I was in love with every single page. Anika deals with loss in the novel. That in particular really astounded me, how accurately the author portrayed grief among young people. How people latch on to a tragedy they have no business really being a part of, just to get to experience the drama of it all.

This novel was so realistic to me. It’s about the things you don’t get to say. Sometimes life is short. Sometimes you don’t get the happiest of endings. When you’re 15, it feels like maybe you have forever to experience everything. Maybe it doesn’t matter how you treat people or who you fall in love with. If anything, this book has made me pay more attention to life. To be present and know that time is fleeting.

I finished the book near tears and it was just beautiful. The author’s writing is gorgeous, her jokes are well-timed and I thought the novel really brought a lot of important themes to the forefront. She dealt with racial issues, ethical dilemmas, dealings with young loss and grief, and the ugly side of popularity and doing what’s right.

I have a feeling this book might stay with me for a long while.


“I mean if there was any justice in the world you wouldn’t even have to go to school during your period. You’d just stay home for five days and eat chocolate and cry.”


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