A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.