Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: The Princesses of Iowa

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The Princesses of Iowa
M. Molly Backes
Release date: May 8th, 2012
by Candlewick Press

Goodreads / Purchase

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.

*A copy was provided by Random House Canada for review purposes*

No matter what happens in life, use it!

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.

I remember…

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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32 Responses to “Review: The Princesses of Iowa”

  1. Nicola

    I love books like this. It sounds like this one found the perfect balance between light and deep. I nearly started this book at least 5 times last week but always went for something else instead. I should really just get on with it! Love your review, Giselle!

  2. Christina

    I see such differing accounts of this one as to puzzle me exceedingly. I think I’m going to need to try it, though, because you and Hannah from In the Best Worlds really enjoyed it!

    The writing prompts sound AWESOME!

  3. Amy

    This sounds like a great book. You know how I am with characters, so this sounds like one I would really enjoy. Thanks for the fantastic review babe!!

  4. Katie @ BlookGirl

    GREAT review, love! This sounds like a really good read that I will have to get to soon. My favorite part of your review?

    “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.”

    Well said, love.

  5. Danny

    OoOOOo I totally want to read this one!! I saw this the other day on audible and I think this will be one of my next audiobooks!!! Love the sound of it!

  6. Jac

    I’m very intrigued by this book, first because it touches such an intense topic that hits close to home. Secondly because it IS close to home (I grew up in Nebraska) and I love that you say it is one that you’ve read half the book before you realize it.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  7. Mimi Valentine

    Oh, Giselle, this book sounds so beauitifully heartbreaking! I don’tknow why, but I’ve always loved reading those types of books where a girl seems to have everything at first only to lose it after an accident. The main characters of those books always connect with me easily, and it seems the exact same way with Paige! 🙂 The big cast sounds like fun too!

    Amazing review, Giselle! This book is going onto my TBR pile for sure! 😉 <3

  8. bookworm105

    This sounds interesting. Never got hold on to it the first time i saw it but now that you’ve enjoyed i’ll check it out.

    Great review! 🙂

  9. Candace

    Oh this sounds like one I would like! I could really ‘get’ what you were saying in your review and I think this will be a must read for me.

  10. Kristin

    I haven’t heard of this book before, but I wanna check it out! I need to read more contemporary books lol I have read many. Great review!

    Kristin @

  11. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    The fact that everything seems so real about the story, from characters to consequences, really appeals to me. Based on the cover, I would not pick it up in the book store. Reading the synopsis, still not very enthusiastic. Seeing your review, makes me more drawn to the book. So thanks for another great review 🙂

  12. Ron C. Nieto

    Wow. I think writing a book that it’s about nothing and everything (and I understand exactly what you mean with that) and keeping it interesting the whole ride takes a lot of talent.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this read, that it worked so well for you! Great review as usual, Giselle 🙂

  13. The Vintage Bookworm

    I’ve seen this around a bit and it’s on my TBR list. I can’t wait to get to read it! It sounds really good. Great review! I’m glad you liked it. I most likely will too. =)

  14. Nereyda1003

    Ah, yet another one to add to my endless TBR pile. Saw this book a while ago on Goodreads, unfortunately I forgot about it. Awesome review Giselle!

    I just got Burn for Burn, really want to know what you think of this one…

  15. Carina

    Lovely review, my dear! I really hope to get to my eARC of this one soon, especially after reading your great description of it. 🙂

  16. Elodie

    Glad you enjoyed reading this one Giselle 🙂 !! I wasn’t planning to read it but I’m definitely reconsidering now 🙂

  17. SweetMarie83

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Giselle. You’re the only other person I know who’s read it so far. I think you sum it up nicely when you say it’s about everything and nothing. Long books like this one usually have me losing interest, but I got drawn in very easily, and I was sad when it was time to say goodbye to Paige and the gang. Great review. 🙂 xx

  18. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    I’ve never heard about this one actually, but I’m more than a little curious after your review. I love when these real type of stories take you by surprise and have affect you. I like the sound of it! Great review.

  19. Karen @ Book Light Graveyard

    This sounds so good! I love contemporaries, and this one sounds fantastic–I’m totally drawn in by the fact it’s well written. Thanks for the review! I probably wouldn’t have wanted to read it otherwise 🙂

  20. Alexa

    Your review is BRILLIANT, if I may say so. Though I was already interested in picking this book up, you’ve definitely managed to make me want to go out and get it ASAP. Thanks for that!