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“It occurs to me that most of the things that scare me in the middle of the night—Ursula, Eyeballs, living in a cardboard box—are probably not the things I need to worry about at all,” Lizzie. —Outward Blonde
by Trish Cook
Sixteen-year-old Lizzie wants to forget the father who abandoned her and the mother who lives in a drug-induced fog. She spends her time shopping and partying with her best friend. One of Lizzie’s drunken escapades is caught on camera, and her bad behavior is shared with gossip sites.
Lizzie’s mother wants to make sure Lizzie doesn’t cause the family any more scandal, while her father wants her to get help. So in the middle of the night, two strangers whisk her away to Camp Smiley, a gritty wilderness survival program for troubled teens. Lizzie’s only goal is to escape. She doesn’t think she has anything in common with the other teen campers, and she has no desire to deal with her own demons. Will Lizzie escape back into her party life or will Camp Smiley be able to turn around this troubled teen?
Portrayed as a typical rich girl, Lizzie believes money can get her out of any situation. Lizzie’s only life goal is to shop and party. This spoiled, snotty rich girl spends much of her time whining—about her parents, the campers, the conditions of the camp, and everything in between. Even though Lizzie is portrayed as a wild, boy-crazy girl at the beginning of the book, Lizzie later gets upset that others think she is sexually active when she is still a virgin. The inconsistencies in Lizzie’s character are one reason Lizzie is a difficult character to care about.
Other characters are difficult to connect with as well. The camp staff is stereotypical; such as the ex-military camp director, who doesn’t think Lizzie can complete the program. Lizzie’s parents are also portrayed in an unrealistic, stereotypical manner. At one point, Lizzie’s dad says “and rather than allowing you to fall into the depths of despair, we’re sending you to a place where you can reconnect with the light inside you and find greater meaning in life.”
Although there are some funny scenes, much of the plot seems unrealistic. For example, when Lizzie and the other campers run away, a random stranger picks them up, takes them to his store to exchange their camp uniforms for clothes, and drives them to Vegas. Ultimately, too much time in this book is focused on Lizzie’s escape plan and partying, and not enough time is spent on her dealing with her issues.
The diverse cast of characters deals with some serious issues, including understanding one’s sexuality, gambling, bullying, and addiction. Outward Blonde has a lighthearted tone and shows readers the importance of forgiveness, accepting yourself, and helping others.
- When Lizzie goes on a Tinder date, her friend tells Lizzie the man might kill her, and if she was murdered, her friend would tell others “What I miss most about my BFF Lizzie Finklestein is sneaking out with her on school nights, using our never-fail fakes to get into all the best bars, doing body shots until we puke, and making out with random college guys who have no idea we’re still in high school.”
- Lizzie sends a man a picture of herself highlighting her cleavage. When her friend won’t go to the bar with her to meet him, Lizzie says “I think you’re missing out. Because I’m pretty sure James Franco would be up for a threesome. Just think of the picture we’d get pretending we were going to go through with it—“
- Lizzie meets a 25 year-old-man at the bar. While on the dance floor, “I turn around, grab his cheeks, and kiss him. He’s not half bad.” She later leaves the bar with him.
- A boy nods toward a girl and says “I’d like to work her hole.”
- When the group gets to camp, they are told “there is no inappropriate physical contact amongst anyone, whether of the opposite sex or same sex.” One of the teenagers asks “Can you define inappropriate? . . . And also if there are certain acts that are still considered appropriate? Like, maybe, blow jobs are out but hand jobs are okay?”
- Lizzie thinks the camp counselors “want to roll their eyes and complain about what a big pain in the ass she is. And then jump each other’s bones.”
- When a camper gets upset, a boy says “I’d tell you to calm your tits, but I just realized maybe glass blowing reminds you of why you ended up here. . . You know, using your God-given talents for evil instead of good. Blowing people.”
- Lizzie wants to run away, but she doesn’t want to go alone. So she sneaks into a boy’s tent. When a counselor is outside the tent, Lizzie hides in the boy’s sleeping bag. The boy “grabs my hand, and puts it on his bulge. I snatch it back and punch him in the balls. He grunts.”
- Later the boy apologizes and then his “lips graze mine. I’m still mad but I can’t resist; it’s an expert-level kiss. Just enough tongue. A nibble here and there. He licks my earlobe. I nuzzle his neck. He presses himself closer.” When he asks if Lizzie “wants to do it,” she gets angry and leaves.
- One of the campers guesses that a girl is at camp because she is obsessed with “masturbating.” When the girl denies it, the camper says “Why not? I mean, who knows better than you what you like and how you like it?”
- A camper is nervous about showering in front of others, but another girl thinks she is afraid to shower with a lesbian. She yells “Just because I’ve dated a lot of girls doesn’t mean I see every single person on Earth with a vagina as a potential partner, so it’s not your concern. . . You are not even close to being my type. For one, I dig blondes. Two your butt. Three, your tits. Not big enough.”
- Lizzie threatens to “call your parents pretending to be the gyno and tell them your yeast infection is actually gonorrhea you got from banging all the guys at camp.”
- While in Vegas, Lizzie, and Ari schedule “private time.” Lizzie goes into the bathroom to freshen up. When she comes out “Jem is on the bed. With Ari. They are intertwined. A tangle of tongues and hands and body parts.” Jem apologizes. Ari says “Hey, no need to fight over me, girls. There’s more than enough to go around.”
- Jack and Lizzie kiss three times. One time, Lizzie leans down and “kisses the top of his head. . . and I kiss both his eyelids. And then I lay the softest one ever on his lips. . .”
- When Lizzie was in elementary school she took a book to class for a book report, but she didn’t know what it was until she opened it in class. “. . . It turned out to be the Kama Sutra, which is like an illustrated Indian sex guide. So I basically taught my third grade class how to get laid. All because I didn’t actually read a book. . . “
- One of the campers took “a picture of the nerdiest kid ever jerking off in the bathroom stall at school and sent it to his lax bros.” That kid tries to commit suicide because of the picture.
- One of the girls is at camp because “the GUY I banged couldn’t stop bragging about it to the entire school. So I scratched fuckboy into his car and took a bat to his taillights.”
- Lizzie and Sam plan to run away. Another camper hears them and threatens to tell. Sam “clamps a hand over her lips. . . Chandra peels Sam’s hand away. And then bites her.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Lizzie’s mom is addicted to drugs. Lizzie doesn’t mind because the “anxiety disorder that required daily doses of Klonopin x Ambien = me being able to do whatever with whoever I want to, whenever I want to.”
- When Lizzie’s mom comes to check on her, “her eyes are glassy and she’s a bit wobbly—both sure signs the medicine is already taking effect.”
- Lizzie goes to a bar and drinks enough vodka clubs that “everything’s funny. Not to mention fuzzy. And fun.”
- A group runs away from camp and goes to Vegas. While there, they drink Miami vices.
- Profanity is used often. Profanity includes ass, asshole, bitch, bullshit, crap, damn, dick, fatass, fuck, motherfucking, shit, smartass, and WTF.
- “Oh my God” and “OMG” are used as exclamations.
- Lizzie’s dog likes to eat bull sticks. Lizzie thinks, “Whoever decided dried bull dick might be a good dog snack is a certified psycho. . . “ Later, Lizzie refers to the dog treat as “bull penis.”
- When a police officer pulls over a car that Lizzie is a passenger in, she is “appalled at my extreme-level dumb-assery.”
- After a police dashcam video is released of Lizzie’s bad behavior, she is dubbed “the Rich Bitch Billionairess.”
- The director of the camp tells Lizzie, “I can’t wait to see your spoiled candy ass trying to make it through the solo overnight trip you’ll have to complete to graduate.”
- Lizzie calls a boy a “jerk.”
- A boy calls someone a “fag” and says, “I had you pegged for a dyke.”
- A boy says his “balls are so chafed, I’m going to be walking like I fucked a horse today.”
- After a police dashcam video is released, Lizzie is “shaking and praying—to who or what I don’t know—that it won’t hurt too much when they [her parents] kill me.”
- When someone suggests that Lizzie pray, she responds, “I’m not really the praying type.”
- The counselor says “Mother Earth, today another group of beautiful young people with unlimited potential joined us on our journey . . . Allow us to light their way back to happiness, to anoint them with love and laughter, to help them manifest their true and perfect selves.”