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L.A. Candy

(i)

 

Not as bad as you might expect from a reality TV star.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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." 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 break-out star and takes revenge by leaking photos of Jane having sex.

Sex

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.

Language

Some language, not excessive, including "bulls--t," "s--t," "mierda" (s--t in Spanish), "pissed-off," "hellhole," "f'ing," and "bitch."

Consumerism

Many name-brand mentions of electronics, magazines, cars, bands, apparel, stores, bars, food, and alcohol. The book itself come 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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.  

Families can talk 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? See our Sex and Media Tip

Book details

Author:Lauren Conrad
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:June 16, 2009
Number of pages:326

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Parent of a 17 year old Written bynicoleerockss August 26, 2009

first page

i only read the first page in a bookstore and i loved it. i will definatly buy it and read the whole thing.
Teen, 15 years old Written bysilly_samsters November 8, 2009

Great Book!

I love this book! I do love Lauren Conrad! This book has a lot to do with her past few years on the Hills and Laguna Beach! So cannot wait until the other one comes out!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old May 10, 2013

Funny, And interguing, Language is a big problem however.

I read this book at 12, I Loved the plot I laughed and I HAD to read the other books, The only thing I'm really not into in this book (one of my favourites) is that they did use the F word quite a bit, I don't swear nor do I like swearing. But once you've hit 6th or 7th grade (middle school) You hear it everyday. I own this book and love it, One of my favourites, I love lauren Conrad novels. Other then the swearing on every page this was a great book! I've read all 3 titles in this series when I was 12, I love it. Oh and there is under-age drinking and reffrances to Jessie's somking habits. Consumirism isn't a problem for me, but they did mention things like MUI MUI shoes, Michel Kors, Blackberry ect,. Great book overall . The main character is my favourite, I love seeing the world through her complex and soft-spoken veiw point.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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