Suite Scarlett Book Poster Image

Suite Scarlett



Living in a hotel can be so complicated. Just OK.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Scarlett helps Mrs. Amberson play a mean prank on a rival. She also lies to her parents, secretly staging her brother's play in the hotel dining room.


Spencer, Scarlett's brother, punches the guy she likes.


Scarlett shares some steamy kisses with an older boy in the play.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mrs. Amberson smokes, and she provides alcohol to the cast and to the theatergoers, even telling Scarlett she can drink a little.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there isn't much to worry about in this book. Fifteen-year-old Scarlett shares some smooches with a cute college freshman and her brother makes some references to his past wild sexual behavior (and flirts with one of the hotel's much older guests). Mrs. Amberson smokes and tells Scarlett it's OK for her to drink a little at a cast party. Also, Scarlett helps her boss pull a mean prank on a rival, and they do hide from her parents the fact that they are staging the play in the hotel.

What's the story?

Scarlett lives with her quirky family in a formerly fantastic Art Deco hotel in Manhattan that is now falling apart. She becomes the assistant to one of the hotel's only guests, a rich, eccentric woman who on a whim decides to finance a production of Hamlet, in which Scarlett's brother plays a part. Scarlett's summer in the city just got a lot more interesting, but can she handle a crazy boss, a new romance with a handsome cast member -- and some serious family drama? Everything really spins out of control when she secretly helps to stage the play in the hotel's dining room.

Is it any good?


Readers will adore the setting -- a dilapidated hotel that was once an Art Deco jewel (the author includes its glamorous history throughout through fictionalized accounts). And they will appreciate Scarlett's wacky family, especially her charming older brother Spencer, who has a special talent for physical comedy. Really, a little more Scarlett -- and her family -- and a little less quirky Mrs. Amberson, and this would have been a much better book.

In Johnson's Girl at Sea she managed to pull off a complicated plot that included a Mediterranean adventure, an onboard romance, a strained father-daughter relationship -- and some far-flung antics. Here, Johnson's complicated combinations don't work so well. Between Scarlett's far-out family; their falling-apart hotel; Mrs. Amberson, an eccentric guest who stirs up trouble wherever she goes; her brother's role in a low-budget production of Hamlet, which is constantly on the verge of collapse; her relationship with his cute co-star; her little sister's recovery from cancer; her older sister's on again, off again relationship with a dull rich guy; and a really silly revenge plot between rich Mrs. Amberson and a former friend she now considers a rival, readers will find it easy to forget that this is Scarlett's story -- and wonder in the end how she has really changed. And the main character's transformation is what the young adult genre is all about.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about other books and movies that feature big quirky families. Why do we find this so appealing? What sort of clichés do writers fall into when creating these families (Think: The good sister, the wild brother, etc)?

Book details

Author:Maureen Johnson
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:May 1, 2008
Number of pages:368
Publisher's recommended age(s):12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bysunnysideup7685 October 10, 2011

Not as the review said

I was really disappointed in this book. Also in the common sense review. The book was not as squeaky clean as the review said it was. Yes, there is smoking by the older character, but there is a WHOLE lot more. Lieing is a big factor in the book.Scarlett and her siblings constantly lie to their parents, and reward each other for keeping up each others lies. Mrs. Amberson tells Scarlett not to tell her parents things, and lies to them about many things. Amberson steals tuna and blames it on Scarlett, and has her lie about playing a mean prank on someone. Scarlett's brother Spencer has had multiple girlfriends, including one that is gay. It is referenced that he uses condoms, reads porn, has gotten drunk and had a three day hangover, and made out with a girl in every room in the hotel. Scarlett's boyfriend seemed like he was going to be a promising character, until he brings Scarlett to his apartment, while drunk. And I think we all know, where this is going, drag s her off a chair onto the floor and passionately kisses her. FOR TWO HOURS!!! And Scarlett is described as coming out of his apartment with rumpled clothing and tousled hair. There is also tons of references to the female body being hot and sexy. Scarlett talks about her period, there is a woman who sits on her balcony naked, and Mrs. Amberson walks around in see through pjs/bathrobe and lingere. In the book, this behavior is seen as acceptable, and Scarlett's parents are portrayed as clueless and unaware of the behavior. They believe all the lies that their children give them. In fact, they are very rarely mentioned throughout the book.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bySuper reader Mom January 3, 2010

Cute book, witty characters

This is a fun read for girls. The main character learns several lessons while growing up in a family that owns and runs a boutique hotel. Scarlett's summer gets interesting when an quirky guest comes to stay. I was happy to see the strong family bond between the main character and her siblings. I wished the smoking references weren't in the book so much. However, for parents, it is the older woman who is the smoker in the book, not the teenage characters.
Kid, 12 years old February 16, 2013

Suite Scarlett....My Favorite Book :)

I think it is great book but for only appropiate ages 12 and up.Its really auh- mazing book I've ever read from Scarlett's point of view in a hotel.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models


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