By Stephanie Dunnewind,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Not as bad as you might expect from a reality TV star.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Gives a glimpse of what it's like to be on a reality TV show in Los Angeles.
Producers assess women based on physical traits such as "big boobs." When Madison says she thinks Jane has an eating disorder because she threw up in the bathroom, a magazine editor says, "That's not an eating disorder, that's a diet." Jane runs away from her problems rather than face them and tell the truth. Characters' clothing is always described; shopping trips to Melrose Avenue and Target are featured in detail. Jane buys a $400 pair of Miu Miu heels as a "splurge" for the show. The young women go to a spa for various treatments. Scarlett's disdain for all this -- she only wears jeans (albeit sexy ones, of course) -- helps balance the focus on superficial qualities somewhat.
Positive Role Models
Jane and Scarlett are negative role models with their drinking, but have positive traits as well. Scarlett is smart and eschews what she considers shallow, such as fashion. Her favorite mug features a Descartes saying, "Cogito, Ergo Sum." ("I think, therefore I am.") She is a loyal friend. However, she can be judgmental and feels superior because she thinks she is smarter than everyone else. Jane sticks with her job even when she keeps making mistakes. One of the other young women on the show gets jealous that Jane is the breakout star and takes revenge by leaking photos of Jane having sex.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Scarlett gives young men false names before sleeping with them during one-night stands "so she wouldn't have to see them again." Jane wakes up with one of Scarlett's conquests sleeping next to her (he confused their rooms in the middle of the night). Two girls make out in a bathroom. A mention of Jane sleeping with her high-school boyfriend, "something she had held out on doing for exactly six months, one week, and three days from when they met." Jane sleeps with Braden (despite both of them sort of having other boy/girlfriends), and gets photographed through an open window. It describes kissing and taking off her shirt, but nothing more.
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Some language, not excessive, including "bulls--t," "s--t," "mierda" (s--t in Spanish), "pissed-off," "hellhole," "f'ing," and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Many name-brand mentions of electronics, magazines, cars, bands, apparel, stores, bars, food, and alcohol. The book itself comes with a QR code, which "allows a camera on a mobile device to scan and connect directly to the mobile Internet and access content like videos and podcasts" from a phone.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Pervasive, casual drinking of various types of alcohol by underage (19) young adults in restaurants, bars, clubs, and home. They drink Dirty Shirleys, apple martinis, vodka sodas, margaritas, tequila shots, and name-brand alcohol (Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire). As far as the book portrays, no one cards minors in L.A. The four stars get drunk while partying with a group of young men. An adult producer sends a bottle of champagne as a gift. Jane says she likes to drink anything with vodka. The girls remember how they swiped a bottle of Ketel One from a liquor cabinet. Scarlett takes an unknown pill from another young woman. Jane's boyfriend has a drinking problem.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this novel by a reality TV star from the MTV show The Hills includes pervasive, extensive drinking by underage young adults; repeated mentions of name brands with an emphasis on having the right expensive clothing; and features some sexual encounters, including one-night stands and two girls making out.
Where to Read
Based on 2 parent reviews
Excellent, well-written read for 6th grade and up
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What's the Story?
Nineteen-year-old friends Jane and Scarlett move to Los Angeles for a new adventure. Jane plans to intern for an event planner while Scarlett attends classes at USC. When they're hand-picked to star in a new reality show -- described as a PG-version of Sex in the City -- cameras follow them everywhere. As the TV producer tells them, "No one moves here to be a nobody." When the show becomes a hit, the friends have to discover if becoming "somebody" means losing who they are.
Is It Any Good?
The draw here -- as the book jacket with the author's name twice as big as the title suggests -- is author Lauren Conrad's fame as a star of MTV's reality show The Hills. The entire back cover is a photo of her looking like a model. The book, "loosely inspired by her own experience," highlights the staging of "reality" shots but doesn't dish much insider gossip.
Conrad falls into common new author traps (telling rather than showing, lack of character motivation, caricatured secondary characters), but she's not bad with dialogue. Readers will trust her authenticity in portraying the lives of young adults testing their new independence.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why Jane and Scarlet were so willing to participate in the reality TV show. Would teens want to be followed by cameras documenting their lives?
How "real" is reality TV? In what ways does Conrad show how staging and editing affects what happens and what viewers see?
What does it mean to be "hot"? Scarlet and Jane learn that L.A. clubs are only popular for six months; "most places are in and out faster than Juicy track suits." What do teens think that says about the nature of trends?
Also, what do you think the consequences in real life would be for Scarlet's sexual behavior?
- Author: Lauren Conrad
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: June 16, 2009
- Number of pages: 326
- Last updated: July 1, 2015
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Where to Read
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