A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a novel about 18-year-old Monty, who in the early 1700s goes on a Grand Tour of Europe. Same-sex attraction and love, and learning that that's not something you need to change or "fix" about yourself, are central themes. There are a few steamy make-out scenes, with two same-sex couples and one opposite-sex couple. Strong language isn't frequent but includes "d--k," "pr--k," and most often "damn" and variations. Past physical abuse is remembered; injuries and trauma are briefly mentioned. There are fights and scuffles with punching, knives, swords, and guns; blood is mentioned but there's no gore. The characters are frequently in peril, and an important location is a scary underground crypt. Monty drinks to excess a lot, and has alcoholic tendencies. Characters occasionally smoke tobacco, usually in pipes.
What's the story?
THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE tells of Henry Montague, a young aristocrat in 1700s England. Kicked out of Eton and a perpetual disappointment to his father for "mucking around with boys," Monty decides to put a little distance, like the continent of Europe, between them for a while and take a Grand Tour. Fortunately, his best friend and secret crush, Percy, gets to come along, too. Unfortunately, Monty will have to put up with his little sister, Felicity, as far as the south of France, where she's to be dropped off at finishing school. Also unfortunate: the time Monty steals an unassuming trinket from the Duke of Bourbon's chamber at Versailles. Because, as it turns out, the trinket is the key to one of alchemy's greatest triumphs, a universal cure-all, and the Duke will stop at nothing to get it back.
Is it any good?
This 1700s road trip story is a fun, funny, and exciting summer read. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue has lots to sink your teeth into, the story clips along at a good pace, and author Mackenzi Lee strikes a good balance between humor, action, and suspense. Teens will relate to Monty's desire to escape family problems and responsibilities and just have fun on the road for a while.
Monty's inability to see what's really going on gets frustrating sometimes, and most of the surprises or twists are easy to figure out way before he does. But his troubled past and struggle to accept himself, warts and all, inspires empathy. Sexual preference, racism, and gender inequality are all relatable issues the teen characters struggle with. Serious history buffs may balk at some of the updated language, like using "disrespect" as a verb. But teen readers looking for a fun read who can go along for the ride will enjoy Monty, Percy, and Felicity's exploits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sexy stuff in The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Does it seem realistic?
Does Monty drink too much? Is he an alcoholic? Does he make drinking seem fun, and not a big deal? Does it cause problems?
Does the portrayal of life in the 1700s seem realistic? What other historical fiction have you read? How does this book compare?
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