Confessions of a Shopaholic
By Stephanie Dunnewind,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Chick-lit fave gets a movie tie-in.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Becky lies constantly, whether to avoid looking stupid (pretending she knows something she doesn't), to impress someone (saying she likes something she doesn't), or to dodge her bank and bill collectors (a range of inventions from a broken leg to post-dated checks). She tells a man she needs money to buy a gift for her sick aunt when she really plans to buy a scarf. She lies to her parents, boss, friends, and co-workers. Becky goes out with a man because he's rich, and looks through his checkbook while he is gone from the table (she does, at least, resist taking a check he's written to her to donate to a charity). Working at a clothing shop, Becky refuses to let a customer try on a pair of sale pants that she herself covets (she gets fired, but still asks if she can use the employee discount). Before a big date, she doesn't eat anything all day "so I'm nice and thin."
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Becky breaks up with a man who says he doesn't believe in sex before marriage and tells her roommate what happened on their "crucial third date." They start kissing and she reaches for his trouser zipper. "He actually had to punch me in the face to get me off him. . ." When he asks her if she is prepared to wait for him, she tells him she's sure he won't be able to resist her for long. Her roommate calls her a "man-eater" and makes fun of what she suspects is the small size of the man's penis. When a man kisses Becky for the first time, his hands cup her bottom and fingers under her skirt hem. The next morning she is in his bed, feeling "sated" and noting that "God, he really knows how to . . ." She doesn't share any specific details, noting, "Can't you use your imagination?"
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Though the British curse words come across as charming ("sodding," "bugger," "shagged," "todger"), there are a few recognized on this side of the Atlantic: "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
As one might expect, the book is pretty much about shopping. Pages drip with high-end brand names of everything from luggage to clothes to shoes to lotion to perfume. The first thing Becky does is size up what a person is wearing; she comforts herself by shopping. She cares very much about what other people think; "if I buy something from a shop that's a bit uncool, I cut the label out." She compulsively spends a lot of money even when she is deeply in debt. She uses multiple credit cards (mentioned by name, particularly Visa). She tries (sort of) to cut her spending but is unsuccessful. She throws away bills or hides them in a drawer without opening them. She does eventually (sort of) learn to be a bit more responsible, but this is not a didactic tale. She finds an unlikely way to make more money so she can pay her bills; she is not a role model for stay-within-your-budget spending.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are multiple references to drinking mixed drinks (gin and tonic), champagne, and wine, sometimes in excess. These are adults, however. Looking over her credit card bill, she deems her three bottles of wine "essential." Becky keeps drinking to force herself to be attracted to a rich man she doesn't really like. Neighbors offer her a sherry in the afternoon -- "Never too early for a sherry!" -- and Becky decides they're alcoholics. A minor character smokes and Becky thinks "even though I don't really smoke anymore, I suddenly feel as though I could do with one myself."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, as the title suggests, this book features rampant consumerism; it describes shopping trips the way a chef might wax eloquent about a gourmet meal or an artist rhapsodize about a masterpiece. The main character, Becky, is shallow and self-absorbed, though by the end she's a little less so. There are several references to adults drinking and sex (nothing explicit). It's implied that couples have sex by the third date.
Where to Read
Based on 1 parent review
Look forward to seeing the movie
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What's the Story?
The first in a series, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC is getting a new marketing push because it's now a movie starring Isla Fisher (out February 2009). Becky Bloomwood is so far in debt she dreads opening her mail, but her answer to everything is to shop. It would be a waste of money not to take advantage of a good sale, right? Her job as a financial reporter for a British magazine called Successful Saving doesn't pay much, so Becky has two choices: stop spending as much money, or find a way to make more. When option one turns out to be a bust, she's determined to increase her fortunes, whether through a second job or a rich husband. She'll show that insufferable-but-handsome Luke Brandon she's not the inconsequential airhead he thinks she is.
Is It Any Good?
This book is not for readers who don't know Gucci from Prada. Becky's shallow obliviousness can grow tedious after a while, but her funny charm is endearing nonetheless. The many odes to shopping are balanced by hilarious scenes such as a job interview where Becky gets caught for lying on her resume (she says she speaks Finnish -- and it just so happens the company has new Finnish clients they want her to meet!). Asking for realism in a chick-lit novel is like expecting a low-fat eclair -- Becky's solution to her financial problems could only happen in fiction -- but Kinsella keeps Becky grounded enough that readers care even when she's over the top. Teens may not understand all the British financial references, especially in the second half (and indeed, Becky herself barely does, either), but they are crucial to the plot. Knowing the exchange rate for pounds to dollars will help translate Becky's debt into its true horror.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Becky's Scarlett O'Hara ("I'll think about it tomorrow") approach to her looming debt. Why does Becky keep spending money when she knows she shouldn't? Do teens think people can be addicted to shopping? How does Becky use shopping to cope with her emotions? Do teens feel pressured to own certain name-brand clothes or handbags? With banks plying college students with credit-card offers, high school is a great age for parents to share their approach to credit and staying within one's financial means.
- Author: Sophie Kinsella
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: January 1, 2001
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 15 - 17
- Number of pages: 312
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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