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September 25, 2012
Read this YA Book If…
The Do-over: Gimme a Call
by Erin Cowles

Who hasn't wished they could go back in time and do something a little differently? I sure have. For instance, I would have told myself that the 80s bird nest bangs I thought were the height of fashion will make me cringe every time a Facebook friend tags me in an old picture.

But the past is complicated. All the little bumps along the road make us who we are, and small actions can set off chain reactions for ourselves and those around us. Sarah Mlynowski's Gimme a Call explores in a playful and charming fashion what is gained and what is lost by taking a different path in life.

Senior Devi Banks certainly wants a do-over. She spent more than three years of high school pouring herself into her relationship with Bryan, blowing off friends and academics in favor of more time with him. She's happy with her decision until he dumps her right before the senior prom. Devi wishes she could go back and build something of value for herself that would stand without her boyfriend's presence.

Devi gets this chance when she drops her cell phone in a mall fountain and discovers the only calls she can place are to her freshman self. Throughout the story, the narration shifts between freshman Devi (“Frosh”) and senior Devi (“Ivy”), as they try to create a better future for themselves. They perform experiments and have instant feedback, as Ivy can remember the original version of the past but lives in the altered version.

For example, if Frosh adds extracurriculars, which college acceptance letter will be on Ivy's wall? If they play the lottery, what will their house look like? And, the most important experiment in Ivy's opinion, how much better will her life look if she can keep Frosh from ever having a relationship with Bryan?

Sounds simple, right? Not really, as the Devis finds out. A whole crop of new questions arise. What if your past self and future self want different things? What if your future self makes unreasonable demands of you, insisting it is for your own good? What if your changes hurt other people? And what if you simply can't stop liking the boy your future self insists will ruin your life?

I had fun watching the Devis experiment and grow. Through it all, Ivy learns that there are no quick fixes to her problems — living with your mistakes is part of life. Frosh learns that goals and long-term perspective matter, but so do trusting your own instincts and living in the moment.

Gimme a Call is imaginative, light, and thought-provoking — chick-lit at its best.

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