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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers get a pretty solid understanding of how much "real" is in a reality show.
The characters do nasty things to each other: Jesse pushes his girlfriend Jane in a drunken rage, and Madison spies on her best friend, selling her secrets to a gossip magazine in order to become more famous. Even the "good" characters do bad things, like cheat on a boyfriend, flake on work, etc. Ultimately, though, characters are mostly punished for their bad behavior, and honest communication and true friendship win out.
Positive Role Models
This is a mixed bag: All the characters drink -- and everyone does something nasty to someone else. Madison is a fame-hungry fake friend who sells Jane's secrets to a magazine editor -- and even Jane cheats on her boyfriend with his roommate. Jane and Scarlett show some admirable qualities -- Jane is sweet and Scarlett is honest and intellectual -- but in the end, most parents probably wouldn't want their teens leading any of these lives.
Violence & Scariness
Jesse can be violent towards Jane when he has been drinking. He pushes Jane and threatens her by driving dangerously when she is his passenger; he also punches Braden at a club.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some heavy kissing and sleepovers (though Jane claims she did not have sex with Braden). Madison has affairs with married men -- including a new father who lets her stay at his penthouse -- and Scarlett has a reputation for hooking up and one night stands.
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A sprinkling here and there, including all the real baddies.
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Products & Purchases
Lots of high-end brands like Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada, plus iPod, BMW The Coffee Bean, & Tea, and more, and LOTS of L.A. restaurants and clubs.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The underage heroines drink (Jane's narration even mentions how much easier it is to get alcohol at clubs than it is at restaurants). Jane's boyfriend Jesse has a serious drinking problem, and Jane also smells marijuana on him.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book follows the lives of reality TV stars who live -- and party -- in Los Angeles. Characters drink -- one is an alcoholic who even pushes his girlfriend in a drunken rage -- and all do nasty things to one another. Madison is a fame-hungry fake friend who sells Jane's secrets to a magazine editor -- and even Jane cheats on her boyfriend with his roommate. There is a sprinkling of swear words, and references to high-end brands like Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada, as well as lots of L.A. restaurants and clubs.
Is It Any Good?
This book is good fun: It's packed with drama, romance -- and lots and lots of product name dropping. Even readers who skipped the debut will find it easy to pick up the story here. They may wonder what Jane sees in Jesse, who goes from romantic boyfriend to an alcoholic mess pretty quickly, but the "bad guys" are really what make this book such a good time: Jesse is such a jerk, Madison is so manipulative -- plus everyone is always well dressed.
Author Conrad, who starred of The Hills, gives teens a good inside view of what it's like to be part of a reality show -- hint: it's not as real as it pretends to be -- and the basic premise about two normal, nice girls picked from obscurity to star on television is an enticing one. Don't expect to get any literature here (although Scarlett and her boyfriend do talk about the Bronte sisters) but as far as guilty pleasure/ summer beach books are concerned, this is a tasty treat.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.