Monday, May 7, 2012

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.
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. (from GoodReads)

I was really in need of some good ole contemporary YA after spending almost two months reading the fantasy Song of Ice and Fire series. The Princesses of Iowa was a great pick for this and it's a debut! I really enjoyed this novel, however I do thing the author tried to cram too many things into it.

There was a lot about The Princesses of Iowa that is similar to other YA books: popular girl finding herself, drinking/drunk driving, high school, friendship/family issues. But I thought that The Princesses of Iowa put a spin on all that. First off, the book takes place in Iowa, which is definitely different. The accident that Paige was involved in could have been a lot worse and the book is mainly the aftermath of this event a few months after its occurence.

I was really expecting the drunk driving accident to take center stage, since it seemed to be the main point of the plot, but there was so much going on that it was pushed into the background. I know teens have to deal with a lot of different things but this book honestly did not need to address every single one. There were so many themes and separate plot points that everything felt mashed together. Let's see, there was: drunk driving, friendship/boyfriend/family issues, self-image, two love interests, popularity, parental/peer pressure, disabilities and gay rights/discrimination. All this was tied around writing, because Paige is taking a creative writing class. So she's trying to work around all these issues while using writing as therapy. So there is a lot going on! While I'm glad that the author discussed gay rights/discrimination because that's a very important issue, it felt like it was thrown in there with no relation to the plot. That could have been its own separate thought.

Even though the book was super long and had many things going on, I liked that Paige developed like a true dynamic character. She really did change for the better and it was nice to actually be able to see that. Also some of the supporting characters were really fun to read about, such as Shanti, Ethan, and Mr. Tremont. I did enjoy The Princesses of Iowa, but I think it could have been written a little better. So if any of the million themes interest you, you'd probably like this book.

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: from Flamingnet Book Reviews

2012/Candlewick Press/464 pages.

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