May 9, 2016

Manic Pixie Dream Girls Give Me Nightmares | Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Thanks for the Trouble
By Tommy Wallach
Thanks for the TroublePublished February 23, 2016
368 pages
Simon & Schuster

“I’ve got some questions for you. Was this story written about me?”
I shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty. It brought a bloom to her pale cheeks and made sharp shelves of her cheekbones.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote I can’t on my palm.
Then, in tiny letters below it, I finished the thought: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?
Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

There are very few book tropes that I absolutely hate. I try to be an optimistic reader and give books a shot even if they have a common trope. Most of the time, they surprise me and make me like the trope. 

But I cannot stand manic pixie dream girls. 

For those lucky souls who do not know what a manic pixie dream girl is, here is the quick and dirty explanation: They are perfect girls (or even boys in some cases) that leave the main character heartbroken. MPDG are perfect in every sense of the word. They are beautiful, smart, funny, and so far out of the main character's league. But the main character pines after her for the entire book, with his thoughts always consumed with her and her perfection. The main character might get a quick kiss, but the MPDG and the main character never end up together. To make matters worse, MPDG are almost always accompanied with instalove. 

I hate the idea that one girl can tear through a boy's life for three days and completely change his life, which is exactly what happened in Thanks for the Trouble. 

Unfortunately, the MDPG was not the only problem I had with Thanks for the Trouble. 

I did not really understand Parker's disability. I would like to know more background about why he stopped talking. It seemed like a psychological issue, but then at the end it was portrayed as a medical problem. Since Parker's inability to talk is a major part of the novel, I would have really liked to have more background and understanding about his disability. 

There was also a serious case of instalove and rash decisions made in the name of this so called "love." Zelda and her manic pixie dream girl personality naturally made Parker instantly fall in love with her. He was willing to obey her every wish just because she had pretty silver hair. The relationship moved by too quickly and too superficially for me to truly think that it was love. I do not think that Zelda was a great influence on Parker (which tends to happen with MPDGs). I definitely do not believe that Parker would magically change his entire life for some random girl he met in a hotel two days ago. 

The biggest problem I had with Thanks for the Trouble was the magical realism/supernatural/what even is this factor of Zelda. Her situation seems completely out of place with the rest of the novel and did not fit with the flow of the novel. Her whole wacky plot line made my head go in circles. Even after reading a book almost entirely about her, I have no idea who she is. I was never able to connect with her since her situation was so confusing and just plain bizarre for a contemporary novel. 

The only part of the novel that I liked was Parker's writing. Some of his short stories are stuck in the novel, which I enjoyed reading. Reading his work gave me a glance into Parker's head and helped me understand where he was coming from a little bit better. He boosted throughout the entire novel about being a writer, and I loved seeing some actual proof to back him up. 

I did appreciate that the ending was realistic though. It was not all tied up nicely with a bow and a sprinkling of sugar. Parker still had problems, but it was nice to see that he was working on them. 

Thanks for the Trouble was too crazy, unrealistic, and superficial for me to appreciate. The emphasis was on Parker's naive quest to make Zelda fall in love with him instead of the serious issues that the novel brushed over. 

Have you read any books with manic pixie dream girls? What is your opinion on manic pixie dream girls? Are there any tropes that you cannot stand?

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