The story of Katie Kampenfelt would be engaging all on its own. An eighteen-year-old girl skips college in order to take a year off while we steadily watch her world unfurl. Her hunt for “true love” involving her parents, friends, and men her own age all fall flat. Then a clandestine affair we rather frighteningly see coming a mile away erupts and Katie’s world is turned completely upside down.
But Undiscovered Gyrl isn’t as cut and dry as your traditional teen taking the “road less traveled” story. There’s a twist. Katie Kampenfelt isn’t our narrator’s real name. She’s quite upfront about that. In our extremely connected world Katie Kampenfelt is (of course) sharing her life with us via her personal blog and she’s changing identifying details to “protect the innocent.” While we as readers follow our unreliable narrator’s online persona down a path of drugs, booze, and risky sexual behaviors we never quite know what is truly real and what might simply be hyperbole.
Katie’s self-destruction is intensely emotional, raw, and realistic. I found myself frequently debating whether or not I wanted to strangle her or hug her. Obviously when she’s stalking the 32-year-old film professor she’s having an affair with it’s difficult not to condemn her, but then she would do something endearing or a little more truth about her background would trickle out to explain her motivation and I would begin to root for her all over again.
Without going into many details, as I’m very anti-spoiler, I do admit to having some mixed feelings about the ending of the novel. I found the “resolution” to be a bit preachy, but the book on a whole was very well done and Allison Burnett has detailed the inner workings of a troubled young woman phenomenally well. I’d absolutely recommend picking it up (and then we can discuss the ending).
In true Web 2.0 fashion Undiscovered Gyrl not only has a website of its own but also a Facebook profile for the main character. I love that such a plugged in book is actually utilizing the internet so thoroughly in the marketing campaign. This title will be released on August 11, 2009.