Life by Committee – Corey Ann Haydu

Synopsis

Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

Review

I ADORE COREY ANN HAYDU. After being absolutely enthralled by OCD Love Story, I was so worried that it would be a fluke. But I got the same feelings with Life by Committee. This book struck a chord with me.

Haydu knows how to universalize the particular. There are problems in this book—really freaking huge problems, in fact—yet I felt invested in Tabitha’s story. It brings a whole new perspective to the table. There are people who I have JUDGED the way Tabitha gets judged, and this was such a wake-up call. I don’t know other people’s scenarios. I don’t know their family circumstances. I don’t want to be “Jemma” in this situation. And yet I can pinpoint exact people who I have treated that way. …Here I go again. There’s something about Haydu’s books that make me want to talk about MY life and MY experiences.

I thought this book would be all about the destructive nature of groupthink. And that happened, to an extent. But there was also a strong revelation about the LBCers and what they were really doing (THANK YOU). I think by the end, Tabitha learned to use her assignments the way people actually use their coin tosses. They don’t blindly follow the decision handed to them, but instead realize what they REALLY want to do based on what they’re told to do. Some of the committee advice actually made a difference. They were important to Tabitha’s development, temperament, and choices. But she realized that she ALWAYS had choices available to her. I even think Agnes started to realize that eventually.

Haydu has the impeccable skill of taking you down the rabbit hole. Like, down to the bottom of frightening downward spirals. I felt Tabitha losing control of her life. But her books are so, so good because she knows how to bring it all back up. There comes a point where Tabitha grabs the reigns, and nothing could be more fulfilling.

There was one part near the very end that fell flat to me. Are we going all Mean Girlshere? I can’t imagine a school assembly turning out that way. But since this is supposedly some earthy-crunchy granola-type school, I’ll let it go. Also, I was totally rooting on that “non-secret” at the end.

Related Reading

  • Lock and Key – Sarah Dessen
  • The Boyfriend List – E. Lockhart
  • OCD Love Story – Corey Ann Haydu
  • Easy A (2010)
  • Burn for Burn – Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Rating: 5/5

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