Author(s): Polly Shulman
What It’s About: Julie is best friends with an Enthusiast, namely Ashleigh Rossi. They’ve been best buds forever, but Ashleigh has the tendency to hop from craze to craze which often leads to embarrassing situations. From candy making to military strategy, she always manages to drag Julie in. Now Ashleigh has discovered Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice. She convinces Julie to come with her when crashing a dance at Forefield, an all-boys prep school, in hopes of finding her own Mr. Darcy. There they meet two boys of interest, Ned and Grandison. Unbeknownst to Ashleigh, Grandison is Julie’s secret crush. However, Ashleigh falls for him herself, and becomes convinced that Ned and Julie like each other. Not wanting to get in the way of her friend’s crush, Julie suppresses her true feelings, instead supporting Ashleigh in her endeavors to find out if Grandison likes her back. All while trying to cope with her divorced dad’s wife, Amy (A.K.A. the Irresistible Accountant.) Soon Julie and Ashleigh answer an announcement asking for girls to audition at Forefield for a play. Both get the part, and will now be working right alongside Ned and Grandison. Still trying to forget her feelings toward Grandison, and convince Ashleigh that she isn’t in love with Ned, things are further complicated when a classmate starts showing interest in Julie, and a secret admirer starts leaving poems on the tree between Ashleigh and Julie’s houses. This book is a question of loyalty or love.
My Review: Unfortunately, this book fell flat from my expectations, reminding me that a book should be judged by it’s writing, and not the one who writes it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book! It’s just that there were three problems with it for me. Problem one, the “teen lingo.” This book used words that sounded somewhat cheesy to me, like somebody trying to be hip, and failing (apparently crisp means cool, and ig means ick!) Problem two, the amount of longing for Grandison. Now, I may not have fallen in love myself yet, but it seemed a bit far fetched how much Julie longed for Grandison after a few encounters in which she never even said a word to the guy. Problem three, self-esteem. I know that it is noble to spare your own love life for your friend’s, and keeping the peace with your stepfamily is vital, but for a good portion of the book there was a voice in my head saying “Can’t she stand up for herself at all?” In my opinion this is an okay book that takes a bit of time getting used to.
Re-Readability: Medium. I’ll read this again sometime, but there are better things in my bookcase.
“Ladies’ rooms, it turns out, don’t flourish in boys’ schools. Each likely-looking door seemed to taunt me. I discovered a coat closet, a broom closet, a conservatory dripping with greenery, and wood-paneled, book-lined chambers of various shapes and sizes – but no restroom.”
“By then her ability to ignore giggles and stares had become less an asset than a liability. Oh, we still had plenty of friends – girls like Emily Mehan and the Gerard twins – but if Ash pulled any more stunts like that time freshman year when she borrowed Michelle Jeffrie’s handbag for a juggling trick and spilled the contents, including a selection of feminine hygene products, I feared for our social standing among the girls. And as for the guys – well, that was to painful to bear thinking about.”
“If I had a dollar for every sharp remark I keep to myself, I would be able to fund the Stepfamily Peace Prize, my dream version of the Nobel, to be awarded annually to the person who shows the greatest familial restraint.”