The adult world is… built on the shifting grounds of friendship and competition. The double message of this society and economy are to get along and get ahead. We want our children to fit in and to stand out. We rarely address the conflict between these goals.
Goodman wrote this passage in her article entitled ‘Of Friendship and Competition.’ I remembered these lines as Misha Abramavicious and her friends frantically refreshed their email boxes, looked over each other’s shoulders, and repeatedly asked their friends and themselves, “Did you get in?” A.E. Kaplan’s We Regret to Inform You takes a good hard look at that eternal struggle that is tenuously balanced between hope and fear. At the heart of it is Mischa, a young woman who feels the pressure of her mother’s expectations and the stark judgement of her peers. Yet, when her emails reveal nothing but rejection, Misha is left in a spiral that proves hard to get out of.
Misha finds strength in her best friend and sometime object of her affection Nate, her demanding single mother, and the legacy of her immigrant grandmother. She finds action in a group of young female hackers who see a chance for redemption in some computer evidence. About a third of the way through the book, the tension picks up and Misha finds a little bit of hope.
A.E. Kaplan’s writing is marked by the unique and authentic voice of the main character. Misha’s cynical inner voice and her mostly-filtered sarcastic comments are funny and definitely colorful. I was particular impressed with the characters’ frank and important discussions of mental health. While I found a couple characters to be a bit flat, the vast majority stay true to the teen vernacular and action.
We Regret to Inform You is a piece of YA fiction that is a perfect hybrid of mystery and drama with a bit of romance. Misha takes some hits and questions herself, but ultimately, she escapes rock bottom with the help of her wit and determination. What starts as drama quickly turns to a satisfying caper that twists and turns to great conclusion. I would definitely recommend this one.
4 out of 5 stars
Releases August 21st.
Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children’s Books, Alfred A Knopf for Young Readers, and A.E. Kaplan for the advanced copy for review.