Take a presidential election and mix it with high school drama and you have a powder keg of intense emotions and surprising reveals in the young adult novel Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack. Stacey should be running unopposed for the position of student council president and finds herself contending with not one, but two surprise opponents. Tensions rise with campaigns trying their best to one up each other over the course of the election. You would think that much drama would be enough, but add in some secrets between a candidate and a campaign manager and you have a real page turner.
Stacey has been preparing to be president of the student council since her very first day of high school and when she has to balance the stress of a campaign against two other candidates and her mother’s upcoming second wedding she begins to feel the pressure. Her campaign manager Brian has been her closest friend, but his growing feelings for Julia, a new student from Canada who has decided to run for president, are dividing his attentions and making it harder for the two friends to connect on the campaign. With this sort of triangle happening, Brian isn’t prepared for a third campaign, run by his younger brother, for a stoner senior named Tony. Brian’s brother is a master manipulator and finds a way to continuously stir the post and build drama throughout the election. Your Own Worst Enemy shows the points of view of these five primary characters throughout the plot and this leads to a well rounded and wonderfully balanced read.
While Brian is not one of the candidates I actually found his plot the one I most connected with. Growing up he had always been seen as the “fat kid” and only after his appendix burst did he really begin to grow into a new confidence. He decided to become friends with Stacey because he saw her as a role model for who he wanted to be. What was interesting was that this change in his life was not the only element of his personality we watched evolve. Brian has never really understood his own feelings for other people. As he has gone through puberty he could never really figure out who he was attracted to and had previously kissed one of his male friends, but a relationship never came out of that. When he meets Julia he actually feels things he’s never felt before and while he never labels himself he goes through a journey to understand who he is. This storyline was interesting to watch play out with the election as a backdrop to Brian’s understanding of who he is. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book that emphasizes understanding who you are and creating the identity that you feel the most comfortable with. You can find Your Own Worst Enemy on sale wherever books are sold.
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