Our first Selective Collective book for March is “Going Vintage” by Lindsey Leavitt. I hadn’t heard of her until Tee and Kiki recommended we make the book one of our picks, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by what a sweet and endearing read it was, and it’s even a book younger YA readers could enjoy. After discovering that her boyfriend has an imaginary wife in a virtual life game online, Mallory, the 16-year-old protagonist, decides to live like her grandmother did at her age (which in 1962 means no iPhone, no texting, no computer, wireless internet, or even cordless phones, etc.). This made Diana and me think about our connection to our own grandmother and to consider what an impact digital technology has on adolescence. The seven of us Selective Collective readers discussed some of these issues, and below are our answers to questions that Diana and I brainstormed. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for allowing us to read the ARC via Netgalley.
When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.
1. What aspect of technology would you have the hardest time giving up and why?
I would have the hardest time giving up the computer, though, honestly, I don’t think it would hurt too much as long as I have a book or two on standby. I do tend to stay on the computer all day, but it would probably be best to give it up for a few days and actually get things accomplished. I could definitely go without my phone, though my husband wouldn’t like it. I actually tend to forget it often when I have to run errands. The only reason I really need it is in case something were to happen to me or my children. –Daphne (Gone Pecan)
Definitely my iPhone! Right now its the only connection I have to the outside world is that phone (I’m getting internet back this week). I’m so used to having a phone that I feel “naked” without it and if I l left it somewhere and I notice it isn’t with me I will go back for it even if I’m just running to the local grocery store less than a mile away. To say I’m dependent on my phone is an understatement. –Kristina (Gone Pecan)
As an online journalist, I am on my computer a huge percentage of my day. I’m not sure I could give up my computer, which doubles as a television, a phone (via Skype), an e-reader, an appointment book, photo album, and everything. My phone too, but I can’t type long articles on my iPhone. I freely admit, I’m pretty addicted to my Macbook Pro. But I will say that I know it’s just a machine. When my backpack was stolen out of my car last August, I was angry at the thought of having to replace my expensive computer, but it was the belongings of sentimental value that hurt most the lose. So at the very least I have perspective on my devices! –Sandie
2. What do you know about your grandmother’s own school experiences and how does this affect your relationship with her?
I was always very close to my grandmother (I gave my oldest daughter the middle name Grace, after my grandma). She died a couple of weeks after I got married, but I have so many memories of visits and shopping trips and sleepovers (I used to invite myself over for sleepovers up until I got married!). She’s the reason I’m a reader and the reason I went into my career (back when I had one) in fashion. She grew up in the forties and fifties, graduating high school in 1950. I always pictured her childhood as beautifully ideal because that’s how I imagine that time period. I have some of her high school journals and they have titles like “Jolly Times” about a day she and her Horizon Club friends cleaned out the church yard and had a “barn party” with potato sack races and corn on the cob. That’s the life I imagined her to have always. But as I look deeper, there are entries in there about a tough day at Drill Team where she then had to rush from school to pick up her little brother at nursery school, then had to babysit him, cook dinner, feed him, bathe him, put him to bed and do her homework all because her mom, a single mother since her parents split up, was at work until late. So life wasn’t always ideal. And now I look back and realize she was growing up partly during World War 2! It never crossed my mind as a kid. I pictured a Leave it to Beaver life for my grandma. –Tammy (YA Crush)
Growing up, I was the golden child in my grandmother’s eye – no secret in our family that I was her favorite! – so I was very, VERY close to her. I don’t remember us talking a TON about her childhood, but I do remember a specific conversation we had about her as a teen. I was in middle school and she told me about a time she had a HUGE fight with her parents. Her mother washed her purse and my grandmother blew up at her for going through her private things. Funny how teens in the 40s weren’t much different from teens today! Recently my grandmother has moved in w/ my parents, so I went through a similar situation Mallory did with cleaning out her house. While I always connected to my grandmother growing up, I think seeing her life in the form of books, pictures, and saved mementos made me feel so much closer to her, made me understand her life a little more. I wish now that I had asked my grandmother more about her childhood and teen years, more about growing up and the kind of person she is. Sadly it’s not possible now, but seeing all the things she kept over the years was little getting a tiny glimpse into the woman she was! –Candice (The Grown-Up YA)
3. If the technology that teens have today had been available when you were in high school, how do you think it would’ve affected your social life?
I’m still single at 30 so I think it still affects it now! 🙂 I got my first cell phone when I was 18 though I was allowed to borrow my dad’s on a few occasions when he dropped me off somewhere from about 15 on up. Does anyone else remember the bag phone? YEAH THAT. It seems today that kids have phones at 10-12 on average (at least in my family and friends) and though I think they are necessities in today’s world it’s also exposing them to so much more at a younger age. I have an “older” way of thinking when it comes to dating and it is sad to say but by exposing them to so much early on kids are becoming desensitized to what privacy really is. Its technology today that makes me wish for the “simpler” time Mallory wanted to get back to as well since I think dating today is horrible! I hate the lack of physically talking face to face with someone, all of the texted and social media clutters up life. It’s great for fun and hobbies but real life still exists and we should still want to spend time with actual people wanting to get to know them. I hope for my own sake that even if I was a teen today or had access to that what they do now I would keep this way of thinking. –Kristina
As the eldest in this group, I can say that today’s technology would’ve greatly affected my social life. My husband and I are always telling our kids how easy they have it. They can text their friends and make plans. I think my daughter planned her whole birthday party last year without ever talking to anyone! So I don’t know if it would’ve changed my popularity status (wasn’t), but my friends and I would’ve had an easier time planning our get-togethers. I can remember the endless phone calls from home to plan anything. If anything had to be changed or altered it was very difficult to do so. We always had to carry a dime (I am dating myself) in case we needed to use a pay phone. I am also envious of how easy it is to do research now. In “Going Vintage” I laughed when Mallory went to the library and then she couldn’t even figure out how to write a paper without using a computer. I fondly remember many hours spent at the library using the card catalog (again dating myself). —Diana
4. In the book, Mallory was upset that her mother blogged about their personal lives. As bloggers, do you think it was wrong of her mother to do that? What, if any, rules should bloggers adhere to when it comes to their personal lives and/or families?
I would have been very mad, too, if I were in Mallory’s shoes. It’s less about the fact that she mentioned them, it’s more about what she talked about. I think it was especially wrong of Mallory’s mom to discuss such a sensitive topic as her daughter’s break-up with complete strangers. It don’t think it would be difficult to leave all aspects of your personal life off the internet, but the reason we use the internet and/or social networking sites is to connect to people and talking about our families is a way to tell people who you are. Reaching for answers through her blog might have been the only way Mallory’s mom felt like she could help her daughter, but it would have been better for her to talk to her friends or husband (or Mallory herself) rather than strangers. It’s hard to say what rules we should follow because everyone feels different about how much they are comfortable divulging about themselves. The issue I had with Mallory’s mom is that she kept the blog secret and I don’t feel she actually tried to talk to her daughter about the issues she raised on the blog. It felt like a ploy to me for her to get more traffic. The secret of the blog kept Mallory & Ginny in the dark about the fact that she was talking about them. I think it would have been fine if they knew their mother was talking about them (and, subsequently, were able to let her know how much/what she could say about them), but the way she handled it was sneaky. –-Daphne
I guess I would say maybe Mallory’s mom shouldn’t have gone so far as to write about her daughter’s personal issues on her blog that reaches out to hundreds of people. I know if that were me and I wanted to talk about something more personal and was looking for advice, I would privately address some of my close blogging friends in message form and not throw the issue out there for anyone to see, close or not. I don’t necessarily thing she was “wrong” to handle is the way that she did, but for the sake her family’s privacy as a courtesy and also to maintain a level of professionalism, I think keeping the issue a little more private should have been the way to go. –Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide)
5. What did you think about the way the parents were depicted ? Do you think that Mallory and Ginny’s responses to their parents’ relationship were genuine?
I liked that Mallory and Ginny’s parents weren’t perfect, that they had problems like every other couple in the world. I liked that they voiced these problems too, with the exception of having a fight at Disneyland. It made them more realistic than some other fictional parents we read about! And while I kind of HATE what Ginny thought her mom was doing, I think in today’s world it’s pretty natural. Sadly, I think we as kids think the worst of our parents’ situation without considering the simpler explanation. I don’t know about Mallory’s responses to her parents, but I think Ginny’s was the most genuine. We always want to fix our parents’ problems, thinking that if we give them a nice dinner or plan something romantic for them all of a sudden their problems will be gone. I really loved seeing Ginny try! Mallory though… while I liked her direct approach to her parents’ problems, I didn’t think they were 100% genuine. Maybe because I’m more of an in denial girl I didn’t get her being like “oh, this is your problem!” But… maybe that works in some families? In mine it would’ve gotten me sent to my room. –Candice
I really liked the kids’ reactions as well. You can tell that they love their parents and it’s not always an easy relationship but they’re a family and they really care about each other. Mallory and Ginny respond to their mother in very different ways. Mallory is more put off and defensive, especially when she finds out about the blog, and Ginny seems to get along with their mom much better and is a little more protective of her parent’s relationship. –Brittany
Make sure to check out everyone else in the Selective Collective’s features, especially Tee’s interview with Lindsey and giveaway of the book!