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 -- which was adapted for a movie by the same name -- provides teens a more than adequate glimpse into the shallow world of top fashion. Characters aspire to be skeletally thin and look down upon anyone wearing clothes off the rack. The protagonist's boss also berates her abilities and criticizes her physical appearance in ways that are shocking, blunt and deliberately hurtful. Young women and men drink excessively, to the point of injury; have casual sex; and at times swear like sailors.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Recent college graduate Andrea Sachs lands a job as assistant to editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly at fashion's top-notch Runway magazine. Though she knows nothing about fashion, she hears that this is a stepping stone to any job in the publishing world. She endures verbal abuse, running mundane errands for Miranda, party planning, babysitting, and along the way feels very sorry for herself. Her friend Lily and boyfriend Alex are slipping away from her as she starts to become more entrenched in the fashion world. She ends up flying with Miranda to Paris for fashion week only to learn of Lily's near death, alcohol-induced accident. When confronted by Miranda, Andrea finally gives it to her and leaves Paris and the job. She ends up connecting with a editor of a magazine who is a former Miranda assistant, but more importantly learns a valuable coming-of-age lesson.
Is it any good?
The book has a fun premise, but it's a complicated choice for teens, who may miss out on the message embedded here. Unfortunately, by the time the main character does learn her lesson, she has become fairly unsympathetic.
Protagonist Andrea Sachs is learning a life-long lesson about the ultimate virtue in being true to yourself despite potential professional sacrifices. Adult readers know this from the start. But teens curious about the world of New York fashion and this look into the inner operations of clothing designers, stylists, models, and photographers may be too caught up in the glitz to catch the author's point.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the allure of this book. Why has it been such a success? Is the author trying to have it both ways by attracting readers with the same glitz she claims to be criticizing?
Given that the author really worked at Vogue under Anna Wintour, is it fair to write with such disdain about a real experience and a real person? Is this book fiction -- or a stab in the back?