Title: Anatomy of a Misfit
Author: Andrea Portes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Teen Fiction
Date Published: September 1, 2014
Publisher: Harper Children’s
Synopsis: Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?
Anika Dragomir isn’t your typical popular girl in high school nor a typical misfit. Anika is described having “Sweet Apple Pie” looks, but underneath those blonde hair and blue eyes is a “spider stew” attitude who pretends to be friends with the most devious girl at Pound High, Becky Vilhauer, to protect herself and slips Valium in his boss’ drink at Bunza Hut, the fast food chain she works at after class and then steals money from the cashier with her best friend Shelli.
During the first few pages of the book, I was quite befuddled by Anika’s status in the high school hierarchy. She was the third most popular girl in school. A misfit with that kind of popularity happens to be rare. Usually misfits belong to the group of nerds and geeks in high school or the ones who usually eats alone at lunch. A misfit is a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way. And honestly, I don’t see Anika having trouble fitting in society. Nevertheless, I continued reading the novel until I was hooked with every turn of a page, with every chapter I just finished and with every sarcastic response Anika spats.
As I continued reading further, I realized that Anika is having trouble fitting in society. She’s a Romanian who moved to Nebraska with her mother, step father and step siblings. Her parents got divorced when she was young, her mother left her and her older brother and sister at Romania with their father whom she describes as ‘Dracula’ and has a high expectations from her. Now that she’s living with her blended family in a small town in Nebraska, she’s trying her best to fit in.
Anika is a very complicated character, she has a spider stew attitude full of diabolical plots and dark thoughts underneath her sweet looks but deep down, she has a heart of golden hidden those two layers of contradicting personalities. For me, Anika is just confused, she can be judgmental and her words can sting or it’s a slap in the face or a punch in the gut but I realized that these attitudes of her are actually brought out for the wrong reasons and because of her environment. She wants to conform, but at the same time she wants to fight against. She is worried about other people’s thoughts about her, she goes against her instincts of doing something good in public for the silly reason that she thinks that the school hierarchy won’t be pleased about it. But when she’s all alone and the campus’ eyes aren’t on her, she spends time with Logan McDonough, a nerd and an outcast who suddenly became hotter with his new motorbike and leather jacket to which Anika later found out are just bribery from his abusive father, she helps Tiffany, black girl who everyone else was being mean to just because of her skin and she undoes the evil acts of Becky.
Anika wants to help, she really does, but other people’s judgment are what’s keeping her caged up. That’s why when no one is looking she tries to undo every wrong doing Becky did such as correcting a pregnancy issue and defending Logan McDonough. I realized that Anika only befriended Becky because it’s what she has to do to survive. Who we are and what we need to be to survive are two different things. Becky can turn someone’s world a living hell, her words are enough to make someone’s life upside down and Anika thinks that being friends with the queen bee of their high school won’t make her a target. She believes that if she crossed the line, Becky can turn the whole campus against her and tease her for being a migrant.
I’m glad she finally broke free from what’s keeping her imprisoned at the end of the book. She showed the whole campus her true colors and ended Becky’s torments. She showed everyone that she’s just a girl from Romania who pretends to be somebody she’s not just to conform with society.
I love Anika! She’s hilarious, smart and sarcastic. I love how she both tries to do the right thing and at the same time protect her social status even though she is kind of friends with the most devious girl in Pound High, she still has a heart of gold.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a good read. Andrea Portes did a great job in writing the book in a sarcastic and quirky 15 year old’s point of view. Any teenager undergoing the same dilemmas and confusion of ‘who they truly are’ can relate to Anika and will certainly love this book and readers beyond that age bracket can also enjoy this novel, they can reminisce their adolescent years and bring back memories of overcoming their fears and finding their voices in this world full of judgemental people and hypocrites. The book does not only surrounds about the life of fifteen year old Anika Dragomir and her quest in surviving and avoiding high school drama and finding herself choosing between two guys who have mysteriously took a liking on her, but it also tackles about the prejudices of society.
Anatomy of a Misfit taught me that:
- The best time is NOW. Live in the moment because you only have one chance in life.
- Do not care of what others think, especially if it’s preventing you from doing something good or hindering you from being true to yourself.
And of course,
“We are all Misfits in our own way”