Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Review (T2T): Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Violet Tunis and her best friend Katie attend a prestigious all-girls’ private high school in Massachusetts. To deal with the pressure to succeed as well as the eccentricities of their classmates, Violet and Katie love to do projects with one another, planning baking parties gone wrong and “dates” with Scott Walsh, the boy they both love.
Junior year, however, their friendship is changing. Katie, whom Violet has always envied for the ease with which she succeeds, has been pulling away from their old lifestyle. The hypocrisy of their cutthroat school becomes more and more unbearable. Will Violet be forced to give up who she is in order to succeed? Will her friendship with Katie weather the changes?
Humor and heart shine equally bright in Leila Sales’ brilliant debut novel, MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. Female readers of all ages will laugh and cry as they relate to Violet’s difficulties and chuckle over her mishaps.
It is a sad indication of our times that we are able to relate so well to Violet’s situation. Westfield School is extremely competitive, and Leila Sales beautifully captures the utter ridiculousness of upper-middle-class prep school culture: the democracy that results in no decision being made for the most mundane issues, a lack of perspective, etc.
But what makes MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS so enjoyable is not a focus on its setting: it’s because the two main characters are so real, likable in their flaws. It’s easy to see from just her first-person narration that Violet is intelligent. However, she is also very much her age, and thus lacks a certain degree of perspective that makes her escapades so funny. Whether it’s attempting to gain experience talking to guys, to her confusion over Katie’s seemingly changed personality, Violet tries to solve her problems with typical adolescent gusto. She’s far from being perfect, but we love her all the more because of that.
MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS deals well with the sensitive issue of changing friendships during adolescence, but in a humorous way that is sorely lacking in YA lit. I think if I were closer to Violet’s age I would’ve loved this book to pieces: as it is, sometimes her drama grated on my nerves. But as it is, this is teen chick lit as its smartest and most incisive. It will make you laugh so hard your stomach will hurt, and yet it also brings to light the troubling pressures that high-achieving teenagers are facing these days. I’m looking forward to more from this talented new author!
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - One might consider it almost too generic, but I kind of like how it doesn't belittle the book's content, and adds a bit of sass and flair to the novel.
Simon Pulse / Oct. 5, 2010 / Hardcover / 347pp. / $16.99
ARC picked up at BEA, reviewed as part of a Traveling to Teens tour.
Stay tuned for a special guest post from the author!