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Carolyn Mackler's 2004 novel VEGAN VIRGIN VALENTINE introduced the unforgettable character of Vivienne (V for short) Valentine. The only problem? V played second fiddle to the book’s main character, her overachieving aunt Mara, who spent her entire senior year trying to break out of her repressive shell --- with a nudge or two from V.

Now, at last, V is the star of her own novel. It's a year later, and V has surprised everyone by staying in Brockport, New York, with her grandparents, graduating from college and even getting accepted to Boston University. It seems that V, who spent most of her childhood bouncing from state to state with her flighty, commitment-phobic mother Aimee, finally has her stuff together.

Even V's love life has been on an even keel for senior year. Former hookup queen V actually has been dating the same guy since March, even though her previous relationship record was three weeks. But she isn’t sure what to call the thing she has with Sam. He wants the two to be a couple, "complete with prom and promises and pictures in each other's lockers." V, however, can't even hold hands in public --- "hand-holding is in another league. It means couple. It means commitment. It means I'd better fill up my tank because I'm going to drive a hundred miles in the opposite direction." Sam, on the other hand, says that V just needs to "let herself love." But can't he see that's easier said than done?

Right after graduation, V does something that potentially could destroy the relationship --- or whatever --- she has with Sam. Fueled by disappointment over her mother's no-show at graduation and by Sam's annoying insistence on talking about feelings (not to mention a few vodka cranberries), V does something rash that soon has her headed for the hills for real.

Or, if not to the hills, at least to San Antonio, where her mother has invited her for part of the summer. V is not sure how to feel about Aimee's invitation --- she hasn't seen her mother since she moved in with her grandparents and is just hoping Aimee doesn't break one more promise. But on her solo cross-country road trip, V reconnects with her past --- and with herself --- and finally might find a way to follow Sam's advice after all.

Readers who loved VEGAN VIRGIN VALENTINE and were left wanting to know more about V will be thrilled with GUYAHOLIC. This is perhaps Mackler's most mature novel to date, and although there is still plenty of humor, the main focus is on V's self-discovery and self-acceptance.

The road trip always has been a classic metaphor for self-discovery, and V's journey is no different. Besides giving V a chance to reconnect with figures from her past (including Mara), the road trip allows V to get lost --- and to find her own way, to confront her fears of being alone, and to make some truly life-changing decisions. Readers will love taking this trip along with V, getting to know her better just as she gets to know her true self.


Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 18, 2011

by Carolyn Mackler

  • Publication Date: August 14, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 076362537X
  • ISBN-13: 9780763625375