Mackler, Carolyn. Vegan Virgin Valentine. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2004. 228 pages.
Mara Valentine is in control of her life: she’s vegan, is set up to become the valedictorian of her class, is heading to Yale in the fall, and has a great relationship with her parents. However, everything comes crashing down when Mara’s sixteen-year-old niece V comes to live with her family and Mara begins to fall in love with James, her boss at a small coffee shop. Even though Mara resents V’s appearance in her life, through V, Mara learns that she would enjoy life more if she would stop trying to be in control at all times. Because of V’s influence, Mara stops answering her parents’ phone calls and moving on with her life and V also learns a lot from Mara.
This coming of age story is full of humorous interludes and memorable characters; even though Mara dislikes V at the outset of the book, V is a character who is impossible to hate because she is so full of life and it is obvious that Mara needs some life breathed into her. Mara’s internal dialogue throughout the book is extremely humorous and proves to the reader that there is more to her than being a perfectionist.
The reader will appreciate the transformation Mara undergoes because, as the book progresses, she becomes a more realistic and well-rounded character. While some teen readers may object to Mara’s seemingly perfect character at the beginning of the book, they will come to like her character more as she breaks out of her shell.
The cover of Vegan Virgin Valentine is bright pink and the title is written in silver glittery text. While the cover does not reveal much about the book, it is certainly eye-catching and will attract teen girls.