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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

D.C. Trip: A Novel

D.C. Trip by Sara Benincasa is another one of those books that has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years and I decided it was about time that I picked it up this summer. Oh my god, you guys. Oh my god. I died. 

Alicia Deats is a novice teacher in her first year at a high school in New Jersey. She is madly in love with the awkward and square math teacher, Bryan, and she volunteers to co-chaperone the sophomore class trip to Washington, D.C. that spring. Sivan, Gertie, and Rachel have been best friends since nursery school and are excited about the trip -- Gertie especially once she finds out the boy she has been in love with her whole life will also be on his school trip then, too. They will, however, have to deal with their enemies, the "cuntriad," who are definitely out to get them: Peighton, Brooklynn, and Kaylee. In the meantime, they are expected to learn their history in our nation's capital.

I found this book to be laugh out loud funny. Without a doubt one of the most fun books I have read in a while (because murder and mayhem isn't exactly "fun," if you know what I mean), I found myself sitting outside on my front steps the other day finishing the last 10 pages because I wanted to just enjoy them rather than having to put the book down and come back to it. I walked into my apartment building with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. Benincasa has written a book that just has so much joy and lust for life. She takes her characters so seriously, and that's why they are funny. She is a clearly lighthearted person (I follow her on Twitter and I think she's hilarious), and she gives her characters a full body and soul and that's what makes her writing so on point.

Alicia is a wannabe-hippie and we have all known girls like her who found their "inner spirit" and fully believe in making their own deodorant. One of my favorite quick moments in the story is when the girls catch her removing her dreamcatcher earrings after a discussion of cultural appropriation at one of the D.C. museums. [Insert me giggling here.] She is a little bit of all of us -- a girl who doesn't quite know who she is and where the boundaries are, and at 23 years old she is discovering them. Bryan is a grumpy gus who is hiding his insecurities in his intelligence. On one hand I wanted Alicia to win him over and on the other, I couldn't figure out why she wanted him so badly.

The thing I loved most about this book was the story arc and Benincasa's ability to toggle between one main story line (the class trip) and the two sub-story lines (Alicia loves Bryan and the trio's exploits). It was seamless and easy to read while also being just plain brilliant. Benincasa has a quick wit, and it works in writing for high school characters and their cadences, speech patterns, and emotional needs. Never once did I doubt that she had experience as a high school girl because these characters were so on point. Hell, even Brock, the typical popular boy who is dumb as a rock, was completely on point and absolutely hilarious. When he gets around to reading an emotional book, you will sit on edge while he gets advice from the class punching bag and then reviews the book later on the bus. Just go read it for yourself.

This book was an outstanding summer read and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It was funny and sweet, and now I need to go find more of Benincasa's work so that I can fill my heart with happiness again. 

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