Parker Bell knows the secret to beauty is pretty simple--wearing the right clothes isn't as important as how you feel in them. Popularity is like that too. It's all about attitude. You have to picture who you want to be and then just imagine that's who you already are.
This year Parker and her three best friends have finally made their way to the top of the populadder at Wallingford Academy. Their Facebook Friend count has never been higher, and as Aristobrats, they've been groomed to lead the school to greatness. But when the girls are assigned to produce the seriously lame school webcast, their popularity plummets! Will this tragedy destroy everything they've worked for? Or their friendship? Or both?
Okay people, let's face facts-Prep School beeyotchy (hey this is a family friendly blog) queen bee books are a dime a dozen. What's this? A Prep School beeyotchy queen bee book sans beeyotchiness you say? hmmmmm...now my interest is piqued. I'll be totally honest and up front, as a lot of the world works their butts off just to make ends meet (me included) I'm not always one to love the sort of characters who have everything they want without having to work and seldom appreciate it. That being said, I think part of me secretly (or now that I'm telling you, not so secretly) wanted to dislike these characters. As I sat there literally hot-gluing my shoe back together until I can get a new pair on pay day, found myself liking the girls, even though you can fit my apartment x3 into their closets. They are actually nice girls who make a concerted effort to be friendly to the less popular on the "populadder." Of course there are exceptions but hey, these are middle school girls, not saints. The girls stuck together and put one another before themselves. While the bulk of the book was centered around their girl's waning popularity and their attempt at reclaiming their rightful places (which refreshingly they had actually worked hard for, rather than a stereotypical entitlement complex) I didn't feel that the book was totally shallow. The book was peppered with lessons about being yourself, and appreciating your uniqueness. The main character herself acknowledged that she wasn't the prettiest girl, but that her confidence was what counted. I liked some of the made up words and phrases, such as one used to illustrate the girls not wanting to be sheep fashion-wise or as they call it, being an "Abercrombie Zombie." I liked the distinctiveness of each of the main girls, and while most of their superficial qualities (a no limit credit card, chauffers, vacations all over the globe) weren't relatable, their inner struggles were ones each young girl shares-wieght, appearance, puberty, "Does he notice me"? The Aristobrats is the first in a new series, and I can't wait to read the rest. This book left plenty of unanswered questions to explore in the next books, but tied the central conflict up neatly to give the book closure. Overall I felt this book was entirely engaging and though the IMspeak was a bit much for me at times, this book wasn't written for moms in their 20s, but for 13 year olds, and I think the dialogue felt natural and would fit well within that world. I'd love my little girl to read these books as I think they are very positive in message and very importantly...fun! The price on this book is killer so I rate it a 1, Pay Full Price Guilt Free!
Do you agree with my review? Do you think I'm totally off base? Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!
If this book were a movie, it would be rated G, appropriate for all audiences
Now a few words with the author, Jennifer Solow:
When and why did you begin writing?
I was running an advertising agency in San Francisco. I had flown to New York and was sitting in a business meeting in downtown Manhattan on the morning of 9/11 (the 9/11). I’d always made excuses for why I didn’t write: I’ll wait until I have an office in my house. I’ll wait until the kids are older. I’ll wait until I retire. By the end of that day, in the ashes of the World Trade Center, I truly understood why I couldn’t wait to make my life everything I imagined it could be. In less than a month, I had left my job (and my paycheck) behind and enrolled in my first writing class. An assignment I began in that class went on to become a national bestseller.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Perfume. Namely, Vetiver Parfum by Annick Goutal. I imagined a girl who might wear that perfume: what she might be like, what she might think, what her dark secrets might be. Three years (and a lot of pots of coffee) later, I had a novel.
How did you come up with the title of your current book, The Aristobrats?
Like all good ideas, The Aristobrats, popped out of nowhere and had nothing to do with my own conscious thought. I had a list a really comatastic ideas for a title (e.g., “The Inner Circle” ….zzzzzzz) but I felt like there was something great out there somewhere and that I had to let it come to me. I think I was picking up my daughter from school when it kind of landed at me. It was an “aha” moment.
How did you come up with the names of your characters? Do they carry any significance?
I spent a lot of time studying my favorite fictional group of friends: the Sex and the City girls. “Parker” is named after Sarah Jessica Parker so I’d always remember what I was trying to aspire to. I’d named a character “Ikea” in an earlier work that was never published. I just thought it was really funny and wouldn’t quite let it go. Plum gets some of her cues from a character I adore: Violet in The Incredibles. Kiki is just “Kiki”. She already had her name when she walked through my door.
How much of the book is realistic?
Wallingford Academy has a lot of similarities to my alma mater, Winchester-Thurston. I also have lifelong friends, not unlike the four friends in the Aristobrats. My mother is the headmistress of a private school, but she’s nothing like Miss Hotchkiss, “The Terminator.” Hmm…at least not that I’m aware.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Mostly I wanted a book that I would be proud to have my own daughter read. There are lots of messages layered into the book about not being afraid to make mistakes, about living life to the fullest because our time here is short. But I think the most important message is that is doesn’t matter how many Facebook Friends you have – it’s the real friends who count. These are lessons for me more than anyone – the important things I need to remember.
If you had to choose one book to read the rest of your life, and nothing else, what book would it be and why?
It’s actually a play, but I’d read Hamlet. I think there are so many ways of reading that story so that it’s completely different every time. I’d never get bored – I’d just imagine new settings, new actors, and new interpretations each time I read it.
If you had to choose something besides writing, what career would you choose and why?
I’d be a farmer. Or Lady Gaga. Or a combination of both.
Where can readers of The Book Buff find out more about you, The Aristobrats, and upcoming projects?
The video trailer for the book
Jennifer on Facebook
Check out the Aristobrats quiz here...http://www.jennifersolow.com/the-aristobrats/
***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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