A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the parental characters, when they're present, are mostly clueless. But in spite of the story's teen orientation, the values here are pretty traditional -- even if the book's heroine is a nontraditional teen.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Middle child Samantha, a high school sophomore stuck between her popular older sister and genius younger sister, finds her life changing dramatically after she foils an assassination attempt on the president. Named teen ambassador to the UN, surrounded by a media frenzy, and suddenly popular with the in-crowd at school, she finds herself reluctantly drawn to the president's son, David, whom she meets in an afterschool art class.
Samantha is mostly confused by her feelings for David, and irritated by all the attention from the media and her schoolmates. But after a disastrous date with David and some unusual lessons from her art teacher, she finally begins to see things as they really are.
Is it any good?
This novel has the same appeal as Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries: a winning teen girl thrust into the national spotlight, broad humor, and a sarcastic take on America's youth culture. Though marred by an absurdly pat ending (Samantha actually learns to like herself for who she is), it is an enjoyable romp. Cabot has the rare ability to write novels that appeal to young teens, written in first-person teenspeak no less, that don't cause adult readers to become irritated or nauseated, or parents to become panicky.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the main character, Samantha, and what makes her such a unique heroine for tweens and teens. In what ways is Samantha different from you and your friends?
In what ways is she similar?
Would you describe Samantha as an "all-American girl," or is the book's title meant to be ironic?
Have you ever made a top 10 list, and if so, what kind of list was it?
Could you make a top 10 list of your favorite book characters, and if so, would Samantha be on it?