Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Favorites! Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett is the third of four children in the Martin family. The Martins live in and manage a shabby hotel in NYC that dates back to the 1920s. When Scarlett turns 15, she is put in charge of one of the hotel's 27 rooms- the Empire Suite. Into this room moves Mrs. Amberson, a failed 1970s starlet who has returned to New York to write her memoirs. Soon, Scarlett is taking dictation, running around town with Mrs. Amberson, and getting caught up in her Auntie Mame-meets-Bianca Jagger adventures. In the midst of all this, Scarlett falls in love - or so she thinks - and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light. Taken from Goodreads.

I'd heard good things for quite some time - but I saw it in the library and that was it. Because HELLO red lipstick with adorable black dress straps on what is presumably a fantastic dress from the neckline down? Sold.

As it turns out, the inside was as delightful as the outside. Meet Scarlett, 15, who is about as endearingly normal as any heroine you'll (not) find. She writes, she does chores, is kind of poor, is obligated to assist an eccentric and winning Mrs. Amberson, is devoid of any spectacular summer plans (unlike her rich Manhattanite friends), and still has some growing up to do. Plus, she isn't simpering, whiny, tom-boyish, manipulative, rude, stupid, or clumsy. A breath of fresh air let me tell you. She's got some quirks and flaws, but she reminded me of what is what like to be 15 (sans most of the awkwardness) and have a crush and sometimes think you're a victim of your parents' ridiculousness.

The Charm Factor of the book, though, is the Martin family. I admit I had a few moments where I was like, Can I trade my family in for them? Not really, but you know what I mean. The Martins certainly are not perfect though - the siblings constantly bicker and lie to their parents. But they're also very close and exchange lots of witty banter and IOU's and Game Plans and moral support and things.

“Chip has a boat. Fancy boat,” Spencer went on. “And he did promise Marlene a ride.”

“This is my ex-boyfriend we’re talk about,” she [Lola] said.

“I know,” Scarlett said. “It’s asking a lot. I’m not asking you to get back together with him...”

“She’s definitely not asking that...” Spencer cut in.

“This is just asking him to take a little boat ride,” Scarlett finished.
“You mean you want me to use him.”

“Stop it,” Spencer said. “You’re making me love you more.”

Also, they live in a vintagey hotel.

This is my idea of a good summer read. Talented writing, fun story, jogging pace, clever lines, fun characters you actually care about. It merits some hammock-time and an ice cream sandwich or four.

3.5 glittery stars for sweetly lingering in my head long after I finished it, much like an exchanged glance from a sexy mysterious passerby.

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