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?
Before I start with my review of Life by Committee, there’s one important question to consider. Do you need to like the main character to enjoy a book, or can you overlook the likability factor for a unique storyline? Life by Committee is definitely in the latter camp, because although I found it very difficult to like Tabitha, I loved where Corey Ann Haydu went with the plot.
Tabitha is struggling with who she is and how her looks influence how people perceive her. It’s interesting to read from the perspective of a character who found herself becoming more attractive as she grows up, and being acutely aware of it. And Tabitha knows that’s what caused her friends to ditch her – and as a girl who was previously part of the more laid back group at school, she finds herself stuck in social limbo.
What I didn’t enjoy about Life by Committee is Tabitha’s obsession with Joe. Although she mentions several times the depths of their online communication, it didn’t feel like it was demonstrated enough to make me understand where she was coming from. I don’t even care so much that she didn’t really have a moral dilemma of kissing the boyfriend of another girl (because, let’s face it, some teenagers DON’T think about morality all that often), I just didn’t get why she was so obsessed.
Tabitha’s parents were so prominent in LBC, and the relationship was so complex and unusual that it was actually the highlight of the whole book for me – Haydu does something rather unique with them that brings a completely different dynamic to the story – as well as some additional drama.
I did love Tabitha’s obsession with books, and reading the notes written in second-hand books. On a complete aside, I’ve never bought a second-hand book with markups, but now it has me curious. And Tabitha’s habit of collecting them was actually a pretty cool hobby. It’s when she finds Life By Committee (LBC) from one of her second hand books that things start to get interesting.
There are probably going to be some people that won’t like the seeming lack of morality of Tabitha, and the fact that she finds herself crumbling under some pretty strong peer pressure and doing some silly things, but I liked that aspect a lot – it really showed how her confidence had taken a beating at being ditched by her friends over her looks, and that she really just wanted to find someone that liked her for the person she was.
I was impressed with Corey Ann Haydu’s debut, OCD Love Story, and I found Life By Committee equally readable, covering some difficult issues that are ripe for discussion and a main character that wasn’t perfect. Only the rather cheesy and contrived ending felt a bit odd – but if you like things wrapped up neatly at the end of a book, I think it’s a big plus.