Sunday 8 April 2012

Review: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

Title: Princesses of Iowa
Author: M. Molly Backes
Publisher: Candlewick
Expected Publication: May 8th 2012

Summary: Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash , everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is
her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can't fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear.

Review: I normally don't start off with explaining characters in a novel, but the main character in this book is so complex in some ways, & in others so naive that I thought it was best to start with her. Paige, who comes back from what everyone else assumes is a relaxing vacation away in Paris is thrown into a mosh pit to defend herself from her two best friends Nikki and Lacy. I was torn the entire time reading on whether or not I was supposed to be taking someone's side? Was there sides in this book? I still haven't quite figured that out. 

Paige is a very smart (some would use the word nerd, but heaven forbid, the terms "princess" and "nerd" be used together) girl, but she was not always influenced by the best poeple. Her judgements were off because of her upbringing. Her mother is so determined to have her follow in her footsteps to become the next "Princess" of her High School that they've literally spent years gearing up for one day. Talk about dedication! 

I guess I kinda felt sorry for Paige- I could see past the girly wanna be Princess and see the sensitive caring person that she really was. The person that was brave and stood up for what she believed not what everyone wanted her to believe. Her mother on the hand-- I could've punched! 

The story revolves around students drinking and driving. And in all honestly this book is very real. It is a very dramatic version of reality, but that's what makes it fiction right? After the accident Paige has to figure out where to go from there- her mother tries so hard to cover up the accident from even happening, to make Paige look innocent. High Schoolers are deeply influenced by the people they are around the most and that usually includes parents, friends and teachers. 

The story took a few different directions than I actually thought it would. The subject of gay rights became a topic in the school after a teacher was accused of being gay and then fired. In the beginning, I was frustrated because I kept feeling like the word "fag" was being thrown around just for the hell of it. I didn't see the need for it. But eventually, I understood why it fit into the storyline and also I liked the twist that it took. It came full circle in the end. 

Author M. Molly Backes did an excellent job at bringing out the emotions and attitude for those of a typical high school student. I didn't always feel like the book needed to be as long as it was- sometimes I felt as though I kept reading and really never got anywhere with the storyline for that section- but the details were nice. We got to see more into the characters thoughts. 

I think high school students could take away quite a bit from this book. 3 of 5 stars.


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