The Princesses of Iowa
M. Molly Backes
Release date: May 8th, 2012
by Candlewick Press
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.
Ultimately, The Princesses of Iowa is a book about life; it’s about nothing, and everything. I was really taken by surprise at how much I became absorbed in this story. It’s filled with reality. Real people, real emotions, raw moments, hard decisions, and true consequences.
Paige is dealing with the aftermath of a drinking and driving accident. She’s changed, her friends have changed; everything is different, especially her plans for her long anticipated senior year. Right from the beginning I loved the writing. Paige’s narrative is easy to get drawn into. Her thoughts and emotions resonate throughout her story. It’s not a fast paced book, however, it’s effortless. The way you get immersed inside this girl’s mind, you don’t even notice you’ve already read half the book. I loved her intelligent way of thinking; she isn’t afraid to break out of her box. She even got me to become fascinated in her creative writing exercises which I usually would have no interest in. To the point where I wish our school would have had a teacher like hers. Someone who could make it so interesting. She’s good – really good. She made me feel her passion for it. Plus, it was a great way to get her unfiltered thoughts.
Besides Paige, all the supporting characters had just as much push inside this novel. Nikki, Lacey, Shanti, Ethan, Jake, even Mr. Tremont, the parents – there’s a whole lot of them and it’s as much a story about them, than about Paige herself. When is life only about you? Any story encompasses a whole lot of people that will be directly, or indirectly affected by the commotions in your life. Inevitably, there will be characters you love, others you hate, some you will applaud, and maybe even one who will surprise you. Overall, I loved the big diverse cast. It kept things moving along nicely.
This story touches on a whole slew of consequences that all stem from the accident. Some of these are trivial, while others are significant; no matter how big or small, they all come together, making Paige question who she is and who she’s supposed to become. This is what I mean when I say it’s both about nothing, and everything – there isn’t one main theme or plot. It’s really a story about life. About living through changes until we find ourselves. This gives us a lot of internal dialogue which can seem a bit long after a while, but I never found it tedious.
I wouldn’t call this a light read, but it’s not extremely intense either. It’s thought-provoking and enlightening. There’s some sweet romance, heartwarming moments, and dramatic emotions – an altogether beautiful contemporary novel.
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