Sixteen-year-old Aggie Winchester couldn’t care less about who’s elected prom queen-even if it’s her pregnant Goth-girl best friend, Sylvia Ness. Aggie’s got bigger things to worry about, like whether or not her ex-boyfriend wants to get back together and whether her mom will survive cancer.
But like it or not, Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of an unfolding prom scandal, largely because her mom, who is the school’s principal, is rumored to have burned prom ballots so Sylvia won’t be elected queen. Aggie’s own investigation makes her wonder if the election could be dirty on both sides.
The Implosion of Aggie Winchester proved to be a relatively quick read that managed to tackle multiple issues simultaneously, including teen pregnancy, the acceptance of the “goth” culture, the political ramifications of both of these issues (at the high school level), cancer, and unhealthy relationships. Admittedly, none of these topics are explored too deeply, but they’re all touched upon and interconnected in a cohesive manner.
The plot centers around Aggie and her best friend, Sylvia. Both girls are goth, but the reader quickly discovers that, though they dress the same, they definitely don’t think the same, nor are they goth for the same reasons. Aggie uses her dress and attitude as a way to keep people at arm’s length, while Sylvia seems to use it for attention, having no problem allowing people to get close to her. Sylvia seems to find herself invincible, even after discovering she’s pregnant by one of the most popular boys in school. Aggie, on the other hand, if completely aware of just how vulnerable she is.
When Sylvia is nominated for prom queen, she sees it as her chance to prove her worthiness to the father of her baby. Sylvia’s peers find that they have more in common with her than the stereotypical girls who usually take the crown and rally behind her. The school’s staff, however, regard the prom queen as a role model… a role that a pregnant goth girl is in no position to fill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a scandal ensues.
The scandal is definitely the main focus of The Implosion of Aggie Winchester, but it was the other smaller issues that drew my focus. Throughout the novel Aggie is struggling to let go of her ex-boyfriend, who is, for all intents and purposes, leading her on and keeping her emotionally involved to use her whenever he feels like it. In short, he’s not a good guy and is messing with Aggie’s head for his own gain. Even if I hadn’t dealt with this type of guy in real life, I still would have been rooting for Aggie to find enough self-respect to tell this guy to take a hike. And, to let you in on a little secret, Aggie may have given me a bit of courage to do the same!
This sophomore offering from Lara Zielin was a great read on multiple levels. It dealt with some serious issues and featured a main character that clearly grows throughout the novel, while incorporating a budding romance and humor. I definitely recommend it.
Putnam Juvenile, August 2011, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780399254110, 278 pages.