I know many of my middle grade friends drop by here to check for an MMGM on Mondays. Today I have a young adult review instead, and it comes with a giveaway, thanks to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale. I’ve really enjoyed Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series, so when I saw another of her books on the bargain shelf, I picked it up expecting to love it, and I did. Here’s the description for SUITE SCARLETT.
When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet and world traveler. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.
Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery and romantic missteps. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.
Here are the five things I loved most about this book:
1. The romance isn’t the focus – This book definitely includes romance, but it isn’t the main focus of the story, and I liked that about it.
2. The family – I love how real the family is in this story. Often in YA the family issues that come up surround the parents, but in this one, the parents are happily married. The issues come up with the sibling dynamics. In particular, I appreciated how honest Scarlett is about her younger sister Marlene, who had cancer at a young age and is now a terror who rules the house. Scarlett doesn’t tiptoe around her dislike of her younger sister, even while acknowledging how awful it is what happened to her.
3. Mrs. Amberson – What a great character! She’s the kind of larger-than-life character who takes over everyone’s life. I wouldn’t want to know her in real life, but it sure is fun to watch how she makes everything spiral out of control in Scarlett’s world!
4. The theater – It’s not apparent from the description, but a central part of the plot for this story is a play Scarlett’s older brother is in that eventually involves Mrs. Amberson as well. I love the theater anyway, so the backstage look into how things work in New York was quite interesting.
5. Scarlett’s ideas – At first reading, it seems like Mrs. Amberson’s schemes are driving the action in this book, but on further reflection, Scarlett’s not just being pulled along. She comes up with a number of outrageous ideas on her own. And while they generally work out for the greater good–mainly the good of her brother, Spencer–she ends up having to face her own personal consequences. I guess my point is that I like how she’s the one driving the action, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance.
So, as soon as I read this book, I had to go out and get the sequel, SCARLETT FEVER, which, I might add, did not really end! I anxiously went out to find a third book, and it doesn’t yet exist. However, Maureen Johnson’s FAQs say that a third book is planned. I hope it still is, even though the fact that the first two books came out two years in a row and the second one was four years ago worries me. I want more Scarlett!
I was tempted to keep this book for myself, but I’m going to share it with one of you instead. To enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of SUITE SCARLETT, leave a comment on this post by noon on Sunday, Feb. 16. United States and Canada only, please. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, Feb. 17. Good luck!