It seems like every single year in high school is another opportunity for exacerbation. At least in my experience, when students cannot find drama, they make it. They are insatiable. TTFN, Myracle’s second book in her TTYL series, seems to reflect this rather well. Just when the reader thought things couldn’t get any more overblown than Angela’s, Zoe’s, and Maddie’s sophomore year, they did. Somehow, this surprised me without really surprising me. Angela feels a gulf growing between her parents and her. Soon, she finds out they are planning to move to California, a good distance from the Atlanta high school she and her friends go to. Zoe, meanwhile, feels the first pangs of romantic jealousy that threatens to corrupt her. Maddie has a more insidious corruption to deal with, descending into drugs as her junior year pales away.
As before, Myracle writes in instant messages instead of prose. In a way, this applies more immediately to the plot than TTYL’s. Angela, while she is in California, must have some way to communicate with her other friends. In the first book, all the girls go to school together, so much of the dialogue takes place in the school where we cannot see it. The conversations take place only as a supplementary mechanism. Here, Angela cannot communicate with her other friends except for instant messaging. There were times in this story when I thought the use of IM as a medium was a gimmick (and I do not know if I voiced these concerns in the previous review), but I guess Myracle could really only write it so for three reasons:
1) A trilogy needs continuity. It wouldn’t make any sense if Myracle suddenly switched from IMing to stilted essays.
2) She wants to make this text immediate for her audience, and a traditional narrative would not suit this purpose.
3) She is trying to remove the narrator altogether and let the characters speak for themselves.
It seems like these items, especially #s 2 and 3, appeal directly to adolescents. If students see the characters as spirits the author has conjured up for the purpose of the narrative, it will be harder for them to connect. If they see the characters as friends, however, it is easier to connect to them. Yet, these characters are the personal daemons of Myracle’s art, and that is the true genius of the work. TTFN manipulates the reader by making its characters more realistic and therefore more relatable, when in fact none of them actually exist. A student might not appreciate being misled like this, so it is up to the teacher to teach it either as an actual book or just an exercise in writing convincingly. Either way, TTFN is as satisfying a book as its predecessor, and is replete with all the wonderful drama I remember from high school.