One of Zielin's strengths as a writer is that she really "gets" teens: their voices, angst, and insecurities. Another is that she's not afraid to throw her protagonists into no-win situations and watch them claw their way out. Aggie Winchester, a junior and self-professed goth, thoroughly resents her mother—who is also the principal of Aggie's high school, which fuels her rebellious, self-destructive behavior. But then Aggie's best friend, Sylvia, gets pregnant and is nominated for prom queen, an old boyfriend rears his gorgeous but devious head, and Aggie discovers that her mother has breast cancer. Though Aggie is not always a lovable main character, Zielin (Donut Days) keeps her real and honest. As Aggie heads ever deeper into the hole she's dug for herself, she grapples with some tough choices. Should she have sex with her old boyfriend to get him back? Should she rat on Sylvia, who may have rigged the prom queen election? How can she make her mother actually listen to her? For teens confronting similar questions, Aggie's realistically bumpy journey will be welcome, timely, and thoroughly satisfying. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
Ostracized by the popular girls in ninth grade, Aggie began hanging out with Sylvia, a goth girl who taught her that acting tough meant being left alone. Now a junior, Aggie, the principal's daughter, hates high school and all its trappings but feels protected both by her friendship with Sylvia and her bad reputation. Her world collapses, though, when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and Sylvia finds out she is pregnant. Aggie longs to repair her rocky relationship with her mother, but as Sylvia pulls away, Aggie no longer knows how to act or who to turn to. A scandal over the vote for prom queen pits Aggie against her mother and Sylvia, and though Aggie tries to do the right thing, she makes everything worse. To further complicate matters, Aggie is also trying to navigate her feelings for her ex-boyfriend, who wants nothing to do with her in public but calls her for late night hook-ups. Thanks to Zielen's skillful characterization, Aggie is a realistic teen girl: she is insecure, flawed, and uncertain while also being articulate, witty, and brave. She makes many questionable choices, and things do not always work out in her favor. Zielen's real strength is in creating strong charactersfrom lost and desperate Sylvia to surprisingly feisty Jess, a new friendand letting them flounder. Teen readers on the outside of the popular crowd will especially appreciate Aggie's individuality and root for this underdog to come out on top. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
What does it feel like when the world is exploding around you? When you make a decision, only to discover the consequences are far more devastating than you would have predicted? Aggie Winchester, sixteen, is a Goth girl and the principal's daughter. She has a crush on Neil, who loves her in private but will not be seen with her in public. Her best friend, Sylvia, is pregnant. Aggies tests the waters of sex but does not go all the way. When a scandal hits her school, Aggie finds herself at the center of controversy. What should she do? Would it be easier to drop the Goth look and try to blend inor should Aggie take a stand that might wreak havoc on her mother's career? In her second novel, Lara Zielin brings a memorable character to the page; a young woman whom readers will embrace and identify with. The Implosion of Aggie Winchester is a finely crafted novel that readers will enjoy for many years to come. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
Teen melodrama that absolutely oozes angst.
Aggie Winchester, a junior at rural St. Davis High, is one of precisely two goth girls in her entire community. She and her best friend Sylvia spend their time skipping school, collecting piercings and getting into trouble with boys who are no good for them—boys who only want to see them in the dark, preferably in bed, and who will blatantly ignore them in the light of day. Then, on the same day, Sylvia discovers she's pregnant and Aggie learns that her mother, also her school principal, has breast cancer. Aggie and her mother have been on the outs since Aggie's freshman year, when she earned permanent pariah status simply for being the principal's daughter. How will the cancer affect their stagnant relationship? Will Sylvia's pregnancy teach her about love and responsibility? These pressing questions aren't abandoned entirely, but here the novel inexplicably veers off into much more pedestrian territory while maintaining its off-the-charts melodramatic pitch. Suddenly, pregnant goth Sylvia has become a contender for prom queen, but has someone rigged the elections? Is it Sylvia? Is it Aggie's mom? Is it Sylvia's new best friend Beth? At this point, readers may not care.
The premise has promise, but Aggie comes off as inauthentic as the novel's tidy resolution. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Just as an implosion collapses inward, so does Aggie Winchester's life. Since being blamed for something she did not do her freshman year, the teen has been an outsider. It doesn't help that her mother is the principal and that Aggie is a Goth—in appearance at least. For her it's camouflage, a way of bonding with her best friend, Sylvia, and a means to hide from everyone else. The facade has worked until the spring of her junior year. All her classmates seem to care about is the junior prom and who will be named the prom king and queen. Aggie, however, has other things on her mind: she wonders whether her ex-boyfriend really wants to get back together or just wants sex, worries about Sylvia's pregnancy by a popular boy, and is scared about her mother's breast cancer. When Sylvia is nominated for prom court, what starts as a prank becomes a downhill slide for her and a wake-up call for Aggie. Although the protagonist goes through a really rough time, she comes out on the other side a stronger person who has figured out who she wants to be and who her true friends are. The main teen characters are fairly realistic, but the language is a bit crude. This title will interest fans of Sarah Dessen and Sara Zarr.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL