Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway

June 19, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin BenwayThe Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway
Published by Razorbill on June 2, 2011
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn't imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself.

Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents' divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood--powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds--everyone's but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they'll always have each other.

Because there's one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.


Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Well, here I am. Years after buying all of Robin Benway’s books due to her outspoken support for Wendy Davis during the Texas filibuster of June 2013, I’ve read them all. And I’m honestly disappointed?I’d hoped someone so outspoken about women’s rights and feminism would have really awesome and feminist books, but The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June is such basic feminism. Yay for sisters and all, but wow, is this book white as bread and straight as a line.

Our three narrators–mama bear April, withdrawn snarker May, and popular wannabe June–have great narrative voices and the book’s dialogue is spot-on. For all I can criticize Benway’s novels for, she understands how teens speak and keeps it realistic. Being a girl with only an older brother, I never got to experience what it was like to be a girl with a sister or sisters. No sisterhood for me. Usually, my brother and I have been at each other’s throats and we’re very dissimilar.

Also, I would like to punch the girls’ dad in the nuts. Thirteen months separate all three girls, meaning that after knocking up their mom with April, she got pregnant with May four months after April’s birth and pregnant with June four months after May’s birth. DUDE. GIVE HER A REST. JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN GET HER PREGNANT AGAIN THAT FAST DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD.

(For real, it’s recommended pregnancies be spaced out twelve months apart for the safety of both the child and the pregnant person. It gives the body time to heal and reduces the risk of premature birth for the next child.)

But the reason the girls have their abilities–April’s foresight, May’s invisibility, and June’s mind-reading–gets no exploration. It’s a detail that simply Is. What little readers get is that it seems every time there are three sisters in the maternal family line, the eldest sees the future, the middle goes invisible, and the youngest reads minds. That answers where it came from to the barest extent without getting into the why or what caused it all to start happening in the first place. Kinda reminiscent of that old TV show Charmed and the Charmed Ones except the occurrence of three sisters is far more common and less prophecy-inspiring.

April’s romance with loner Julian and May’s with Stanford-obsessed Henry are equally bland. I expected June to get her own hetero romance with a bland white guy, but I suppose that didn’t happen just because she’s fourteen years old. April and May’s romances simply inspiring nothing in me.

Related to the above: despite me reading due to Benway’s outspoken feminism, this book is such basic white feminism. All the characters are white, none of them are QUILTBAG, and no one has any kind of disability or mental illness. It’s upper-middle class white girls with barely-explained powers. I cared about intersectionality in feminism back in 2013, but I care even more about it now.

Unless the feminism is intersectional, it ISN’T feminism. It’s simply the hegemony of the status quo dressed up as feminism to appeal to people who don’t know any better yet.

This isn’t all on Benway. Of course not! This was the third in a string of YA books with the exact same problem and the one where the problem stuck out the most, so it’s the one that jumpstarted my rant. Kinda wrong-place-wrong-time. However, my experience with Benway’s other novels reminds me that they weren’t any more diverse.

Oh, and if you think it’s bullshit to criticize a book for its lack of representation, you can kiss my asexual, generalized anxiety disorder and depression-having ass.

Well. Now that I had that small rant, here’s the point: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June is simply unremarkable. I’ve still got fond feelings about Benway’s debut novel Audrey, Wait! and it remains my favorite of her books, but I don’t think I’ll be reading her upcoming release Far from the Tree. And I hate that I talked about the author so much, but she was kinda the reason I read her books?Summer 17 Bingo 3 April May June

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