A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
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