Did you read this one when you were younger? I thought I had but the fact that I didn't remember it at all makes me think now that I didn't. Did I miss out on something special by not reading it then? I'll never know. But I sure didn't find that something special reading it now as an adult, which was a disappointment.
Maggie and Liz have been friends forever, despite the fact that Liz is pretty and popular and Maggie is fat and awkward and mostly just heor worships Liz. Liz insists on setting Maggie up for double dates when she and boyfriend Sean go out. Dennis, Sean's equivalent to a Maggie although he's gangling and nerdy rather than fat and awkward, is Maggie's date and neither one of them finds all that much appealing about the other but they continue to go out with Liz and Sean. Maggie and Sean, in the meantime, are in love and have to buck their parents to continue to see each other. Their ups and downs dictate in large part the ebb and flow of the fledgling, conflicted, but finally developing relationship between Maggie and Dennis.
Occasional notes passed between the friends or couples are interspersed between the chapters, allowing for Zindel to dispose of large chunks of time in the narration. This isn't entirely successful as it means that the disagreements and avoidances between the friends remains superficial. And there's very little narrative getting from Liz and Sean happy, albeit with Sean, the typical teenaged boy, pressuring Liz to have sex, to the rather predictable denouement of the ending. And while Maggie seems more the focus of the book than the other three characters, Liz and Sean provide the (obvious) object lesson here in a fairly heavy-handed manner. And frankly neither of them end up being terribly appealing characters. Liz is hard to like from the outset and while her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent rejection by Sean is supposed to inspire pity, it doesn't. Sean likewise doesn't grab the reader's empathy despite his frigid and emotionally barren upbringing so his ultimate buckling under to his father's advice leaves the reader feeling a rush of indigestion. And as it's completely in character, Sean comes off as just other unlikeable character in this book of many unlikeables.
The book is dated (published in the 60's) and honestly I can't see it having been terribly interesting to kids of my generation, much less the more sophisticated kids of today. And lest anyone say that society has changed for the worse, Zindel's portrait of society in the late 60's is pretty darn bleak too. Stereotypical characters, superficial plot, and an obvious, belaboured lesson. Do we not give our kids credit for being more intelligent than this? I really didn't enjoy this but I know it is a favorite of many so perhaps I missed something vital here.