Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel Book Poster Image
Like cotton candy: a guilty pleasure without much nutrition.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers get a pretty solid understanding of how much "real" is in a reality show. 

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


A sprinkling here and there, including all the real baddies.


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent December 7, 2010

Excellent, well-written read for age 11 (6th grade) and up.

Sweet Little Lies is a well-written guilty pleasure novel that is an enjoyable and entertaining read for 6th grade and up. I definitely allow my 11-year-old six... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byolaha September 17, 2010


I hate this book it is very bad.
Teen, 13 years old Written byKittyHill April 16, 2011

Good for the first few pages

it gets you hooked for the second book but then you realize the series isn't worth reading

What's the story?

In this second installment of the series, life has gotten pretty yucky for the L.A. Candy stars: Jane is escaping paparazzi after a gossip mag published pictures of her not-so-secret smooch with her boyfriend's roommate. Scarlett knows that Madison is responsible for leaking the pics, but Jane won't believe it -- which causes a serious rift between the BFF reality stars. Will Jane and Scarlett be able to work things out? What about Jane and Jesse? And will anyone but Scarlett be able to see conniving Madison's true colors? And how does anyone get any work or school done when there's all this drama going on?

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reality TV. In this book, Conrad -- a former reality TV star herself -- shows that it isn't all that real. Scenes are edited to make real people look like characters, and stars are told where to go, whom to hang out with, and what to say. Does knowing this information change your feelings about reality TV? Why do you think it continues to be popular -- even when fans know it's scripted?

  • You may also want to talk about how this book is being marketed. One of the last pages of the book features a bar code: Take a picture with your phone and you can learn about the next book in the series. What other innovative ways have you seen book publishers market books lately? Why do you think the publisher decided to publish such a huge picture of author (and reality television star) Lauren Conrad on the back? 

  • Madison is a "frenemy" to Jane -- she pretends to be her friend while stabbing her in the back. Do you know anyone who does this in real life? Why do think girls might treat each other this way? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Reality TV and mature reads

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