In setup, Of All the Stupid Things is very similar to The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, except that Tara falls in love with a girl outside their triangle, rather than two girls in the triangle falling in love with each other. The situation is complicated by an on-and-off boyfriend who may or may not be having a side-relationship with one of the male cheerleaders, plus the fact that Riley and Whitney Blaire are pretty much enemies at first sight. This book tackles full-on issues such as friendship, rejection, abandonment, death, insecurity, love, differing family circumstance, and of course homosexuality. Seems like a lot to pack into this little book, but it doesn’t feel that way. This all comes across perfectly natural as each characters’ story is revealed bit by bit.
At first when I began to read Of All the Stupid Things, I was worried. The story began very light and surface-level, and I was afraid it would be shallow. I was particularly afraid because I met Alexandra Diaz at BEA and spent a long time talking to her about GLBT issues. She was so nice and I hated the thought of disliking, or even just being indifferent to, her book. What I discovered as I read was that Diaz did an excellent job with her characters. All three members of the triangle got their own chapters, alternating, all from first person POV. The characters not only sounded completely distinct and unique, but they fit their third-person personas from the other chapters. As a writer, I can say that this is extremely difficult to pull off, but Diaz does it well. It was obvious she knows her characters intimately.
Because the three voices were so perfect for the three characters, everything else in the book came together. I believed the emotional progress that every character – not just the triangle – went through. The romance between Tara and Riley was easy and believable. The reactions of people around Tara were also believable. Each character dealt with a myriad of different problems in their lives, not a single focus, which made the book even more interesting to me.
By the end, my only complaint was that the ending itself feels too abrupt. I didn’t feel like all the loose ends were tied up. Of course, that’s perfectly realistic, but it left me wanting just a few more chapters to know what would happen next. I turned the last page and said, No! It can’t be over! I suppose this is a good problem to have, right? To leave your readers wanting more? But still, it left me a tiny bit unsettled and uneasy. It made me want to start right over from the beginning and read the book all over again. I’m hoping there will be something more in the future to clear up some of the storylines!