Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink

4.1 9
by Stephanie Kate Strohm

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Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her


Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Libby—an enthusiastic student of fashion, the past, and fashions past—ventures from her Minnesota home to intern at an 18th-century living history museum in Maine for the summer before her senior year. A fan of Jane Austen, Libby dreams "of a time of true love, courtly manners, and real gentle-man," but her problems (namely an overzealous, cat-loving roommate named Ashling) begin as swiftly as her romantic interludes. Buff sailor boy Cam recites Shakespeare to Libby as she prepares to teach open-hearth cooking, needlepoint, and other domesticities to eight- to 10-year-old girls. Another boy, Garrett, shows up to report on the camp's alleged ghost for the local newspaper, and Libby joins him on the lookout for the paranormal. Debut author Strohm fills her novel with cute historical factoids and even cuter frocks, sometimes at the expense of character development. Even so, she turns a strong heroine and a few surprises into a clever, tightly written book that will keep readers wondering who will become Libby's true Mr. Darcy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amanda Lewis, Doe Coover Agency. (May)
From the Publisher

“A nearly perfect book . . . [that] will have you laughing and singing.”  —A teen reviewer

"In this whimsical tale, the reader is not only entertained, but also learns a little history along the way."—VOYA (Voices of Youth Advocates)

"Strohm has a good sense of slapstick and an ear for one-liners."—Kirkus Reviews

"Pilgrims will be enjoyed by fans of romantic comedies."--School Library Journal

"Interesting historical facts are woven throughout, but, mostly, Strohm's debut is breezy beach reading--it'll go down as easily as Libby's Colonial Caramel Apple Pie."--Booklist "[Strohm] turns a strong heroine and a few surprises into a clever, tightly written book that will keep readers wondering who will become Libby's Mr. Darcy."—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Libby loves cool shoes and make-up, but she loves studying history even more. So instead of going to the Teen Mode summer intern program with her best bud, Dev, Libby signs up to work at the Camden Harbor Museum, where it is always 1791. Things don't start out well. She is sharing a closet-sized bedroom with two other girls and only has a postage-stamp space for her clothes and many shoes. Plus, Ashling, the first roommate she meets is downright nasty and mean. But things look up when Libby gets an eyeful of gorgeous Cam, a sailor at the Museum. Her other roommate, Suze, is friendly, but Ashling gets ruder and ruder, blaming Libby for anything that goes wrong. Still, teaching kids how to bake is fun and Libby soon is very fond of them. The girls encourage Libby to go out with the hot sailor, which she does, only to discover he is a first class jerk. In the meantime, young journalist Garrett McCaffrey asks to live aboard the Lettie Mae Howell to determine whether it really is haunted. He and Libby had not hit it off when they first met, but she figures staying on the boat with him is decidedly better than sharing a room with Ashling. Libby is not supposed to use her cell phone, but she has been sneaking away to check in with Dev, who is terrified of all the other magazine interns and feels he might suffer bodily harm. Of course, everything turns out well in the end, but much drama takes place before the summer ends. Libby is a likeable and sensible girl with great loyalty to her friends and a willingness to forgive. Parts of the plot don't gel as well as they could, but this is still an enjoyable read. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
VOYA - Madelene Rathbun Barnard
Pink is a soft, gentile color mixing the strong red and pure white. As the title indicates "pilgrims don't wear pink." History interns may choose this fashion with matching shoes (during the off-work hours, of course). Even though history-nerd main character, Libby Kelting, may be a historical-romance-reading, Jane Austen fanatic, she is not weak, gushing, or suffering from the "vapors." It does not hurt that she has a summer romance in between her history internship duties as an eighteenth-century Maine pioneer. During the day, she runs the young girls' day camp at Camden Harbor. There is hearth cooking, needlepoint, and a very cute sailor. At night, she not only shares tiny quarters with an annoying roommate, but she also has limited space for her fabulous wardrobe. Throw in a rookie newspaper reporter, office politics, and a ghost, and Libby Kelting may have a historical summer. It is not be all sonnets, primroses, and homemade ginger bread, though. There are some rough seas at Camden Harbor and Libby Kelting is determined to master them. In this whimsical tale, the reader is not only entertained, but also learns a little history along the way. Reviewer: Madelene Rathbun Barnard
VOYA - Angi Barnard
In Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, the unlikely heroine, Libby, brings a gay friend, a ghost, a cute boy, and a history-crazed roommate to the table in a surprisingly engrossing read. It is a nearly perfect book for teens. This nautical, historical work of literature will have you laughing and singing with Libby and her new found friends. Reviewer: Angi Barnard, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Quirky and naive history buff and fashionista Libby Kelting disappoints her stereotypically gay BFF Dev by turning down an offer to go with him to NYC for a "Devil Wears Prada" summer job and instead becomes a historical interpretation intern (aka glorified camp counselor) at an 18th-century seaside village in Maine. As Libby parades in designer shoes past her khaki-clad fellow interns and researchers, her sunny optimism and voluptuous figure attract the attention of the muscular crew of "Squaddies" working on Camden Harbor's restored ships. Before she knows it, her heart is taken by Shakespeare-quoting, handsome Cameron. Although Libby finds 18th-century cooking to be pretty disgusting, she truly enjoys working on colonial domestic arts with her adorable group of eight-year-old campers. In a desperate attempt to get away from her toxic roommate, Libby offers to bunk with geeky rookie newspaper reporter Garrett, which represents the only majorly contrived and absurdly unlikely note in this otherwise charming and clever debut novel. Though there is a mature scene in which underage drinking occurs at a beach party, Pilgrims will be enjoyed by fans of romantic comedies; it's as sweet as a piece of seaside taffy but with the earnest message that true love is deeper than a pretty face spouting sonnets.—Susan Riley, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Readers willing to put aside literary qualms will find themselves set for a summer afternoon with this undemanding romance. History-obsessed fashion maven Libby is thrilled at the prospect of spending her summer at the Camden Harbor 18th-century living-history museum in Maine. But her insane roommate never leaves character, and electronics are forbidden, so when a museum employee is needed to chaperone a cub reporter investigating ghost sightings on one of the museum's ships, she jumps at the opportunity. Garrett may be a Star Trek–loving nerd, but she'll be able to use her cell phone when she's off duty. Libby enjoys her job as counselor for Girls of Long Ago Camp, and she loves the attention she's getting from hot demo sailor Cam. References aplenty to Jane Austen and Scooby-Doo will clue readers in to the resolutions of both the romance and the mystery, but it's a breezy ride despite the total lack of suspense. Strohm has a good sense of slapstick and an ear for one-liners. In describing her Fourth-of-July costume, Libby remarks that "[i]t looked like America had thrown up on me." While Libby's air-headedness never quite jibes with her professed love of history, she is nevertheless likable, if pretty one-dimensional. Good fun for readers willing to surrender to it. (Chick lit. 12 & up)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.52(d)
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


"Please remind me again why you’re going to pilgrim camp."

"Okay, first, it’s not camp. It’s a living history museum studies internship." I nestled my cell phone between my ear and my shoulder, trying to zip my suitcase closed with one hand. Definitely not working. "And second, ugh," I grunted. That zipper was like beyond stuck. "Like I’ve said about a million times, I’m not a pilgrim." I sat on the suitcase and tried to zipper it between my legs. "I’m an eighteenth-century New England colonist on the coastline of the territory now known as the state of Maine. It’s a totally different thing. It’s like mistaking Pucci for Gucci."


"That better have been static, Dev, and not a sigh of disgust," I warned.

"Sorry, Libs," he said, "but you know my brain shuts down when you go all History Channel on me."

"Mmmrph." The zipper still wasn’t going anywhere. Did this mean I had to take out a pair of shoes? I couldn’t lose a pair of shoes! I’d already pared down my two shoe racks to like the bare minimum of shoes necessary for basic human survival. Literally, there was only one pair of heels in there. One.

"It doesn’t even make any sense," Dev continued. "Living history? What is that? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Isn’t all history . . . dead? Because it’s in the past?"

"Dev, how many times have I explained this?"

"I wasn’t paying attention before."

I sighed with frustration. "A living history museum is like a re-creation of a village from a different time period, with all the museum workers dressed in costumes and doing chores or crafts or trades or whatever . . . Haven’t you heard of Plimouth Plantation? Old Sturbridge Village? Colonial Williamsburg?"

"So sort of like Toontown in Disneyland, but not fun?"

"Sort of . . . no, wait! It’s really fun!"

"It sounds really boring. You just used the word trades."

"No, it’s fun, I promise! I mean, honestly, it kind of is like Disneyland," I said, reconsidering. "It’s not like I’ll actually be living in the eighteenth century. I mean, there are flushing toilets and a gift shop. It just looks like the eighteenth century. A sanitized, tourist-friendly eighteenth century. I’ll be like an eighteenth-century Disney princess! Colonial Cinderella!" Oh, I could see it now. I had the perfect shade of lip-gloss to pull off that all-natural no-makeup makeup look.

"Libby, Libby, Libbeeeeee, listen to meeee," he whined. "We could have had so much fun together this summer! Not educational Disneyland fun. Real fun. In New York. New York. Not in Clamhole Harbor."

"It’s Camden Harbor."

"Whatever." I could almost hear him shrug through the phone.

"Camden Harbor is really nice! It’s so cute — like the cutest part of Maine ever. They filmed Carousel there, you know." "They filmed what?"

"Carousel? The epic love story about mill workers and carnival barkers in a newly industrialized 1870s New England fish-ing village?" There’s nothing I like better than when romance meets history. Nothing. "The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical?"

"Libby, not all the gays have an encyclopedic knowledge of the American musical theater. It’s not like they hand you a DVD box set of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection in a Liza Minnelli souvenir tote bag when you come out."

"Well, they should. I’d totally be gay for a Liza Minnelli tote bag."

"I still don’t understand why you didn’t apply for the Teen Mode teen internship with me!"

Here we went again. We’d had this argument about a million times. Dev had entered an essay contest at Teen Mode and won a summer internship for high school students with his searing fashion exposé, "St. Paul-y-ester: So Yesterday."

"Um, Dev, I saw The Devil Wears Prada. There’s no way I’d voluntarily subject myself to that. I’m not insane. And there’s no way I would have gotten it even if I did apply! Not all of us benefit from the holy grail of diversity known as being perhaps the only gay Indian high schooler in like all of Minnesota. How many straight blond girls do you think applied for that internship?"

"Libby, The Devil Wears Prada is not a documentary. How many times do we have to go over this?"

I squawked in protest. He ignored it.

"And you totally could have gotten the internship. You are almost as stylish as me, and that is not something I say lightly."

It was, in fact, this sense of style that had brought us together. As Dev had said the day we’d met almost three years ago in freshman English at St. Paul Academy, we were "an island of pastel in a sea of gray." Apparently, neither of us had gotten the memo that every other student at SPA would be clad in a gray North Face fleece. Who knew that private schools were where fabulous went to die? Gossip Girl it was not.

"Plus," he added thoughtfully, "Teen Mode probably needs some non-size-zero diversity! You could be their token size six."

"Thanks, Dev. That’s sweet."

"Imagine it, Libby," he whispered seductively. "Right now, we could be running around the big city in Lanvin loafers and Prada pumps!"

"That is tempting, Dev," I agreed, "but it’s your dream, not mine. Think about it. What does anyone who loves history secretly want? A time machine. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. And since that’s not possible, this is as close as I’ll get. A real living history museum. Yes, Prada is nice, but I’ll be spending the summer in full period costume, churning butter in a corset."

Technically, the term corset was more commonplace in the nineteenth century, but being perfectly accurate and saying "stays" might send Dev into history overload.

"And this is appealing?" he asked skeptically.

"Yes, Dev." I sighed.

"God, you’re such a big nerd, sometimes I forget why I’m friends with you."

"Because no one else loves you enough to bake you butterscotch blondies as a Project Runway marathon snack." I shifted the cell phone to my other shoulder.

"Seriously. Seriously?" Dev asked again. "You’re turning down Hermès for hoop skirts?"

"Your knowledge of fashion history is truly appalling. The first patented hoop skirt didn’t show up in the United States until 1846."

"Somehow I have a feeling Teen Mode doesn’t care if I don’t know what a bum roll is."

"Probably right," I agreed. Even though he’d only proved my point further, because bum rolls had gone out of fashion with Queen Elizabeth. The first one.

"What if I need you?" he demanded. "Do I have to send a carrier pigeon?"

"No, of course not." I tutted. "It’s not a forced labor camp. I’ll have my cell phone the whole time. I promise. It’s not like anyone actually thinks it’s the eighteenth century. They’re historians, not Amish."

"Please, Libby," he begged, "don’t leave me! There’s no way I can make it through the summer without you."

"Oh, please, Dev. You made it through the first thirteen years of your life without me before I switched from public school to SPA. I think you’ll be fine for three months. And you’ll be in New York! Not home in St. Paul, but in glamorous New York! You’ll come back with all these great stories and amazing clothes, and be all set to have the fiercest senior year ever. There’ll be so much fabulous, you won’t know what to do with yourself. Come on, you’re gonna replace me with Anne Hathaway in like five minutes."

"Again, Libby, The Devil Wears Prada — not a documentary. Anne Hathaway does not, in fact, work at Mode. Or Teen Mode, which is where I’ll be."

"You know what I meant."

"And if I’m replacing you with anyone," he interrupted, "it’s that Hottie McSexypants Gucci Pour Homme model."

"You have my total permission to do that. Urgh!" There! I’d finally gotten my suitcase closed.

"Um, what was that?" Dev asked nervously.


"That weird grunting noise. What are you doing over there?"

"Oh, I was having some trouble zipping my suitcase, but I did it."

"Hmm, let me guess. Wardrobe not quite fitting into that charming pink luggage set?"

"Maybe," I admitted.

"See?" he crowed triumphantly. "There’s no way you can do this, Libby! You just can’t! Pilgrims don’t wear pink!"

"I don’t wear that much pink!" I yelled into the phone. "And I’m not a pilgrim!"

He'd already hung up.

Meet the Author

Like Libby Kelting, Stephanie Kate Strohm is a blond, history-loving gal with a passion for
fashion. She grew up in Connecticut and attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she
was voted Winter Carnival Queen. Currently she lives in New York City with a huge shoe collection
and a little white dog named Lorelei Lee. This is her first novel.

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Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Libby is a unique character. She is into fashion--she loves shoes and believes in makeup--but she's also very much into history. Let's just say that if I needed help with history, she's the first one I'd ask. Libby's conversations and thoughts are peppered with references to historical movies and books, she knows how to bake and do needlework, and she's good with children. That being said, Libby also complains when she learns that makeup and cellphones are banned during working hours (to preserve historical accuracy), and her judgment is questionable at times. She swoons over hot guys--one in particular that quotes Shakespeare and acts like a gentlemen, overlooking signs that he may not be her ideal Prince Charming. Nevertheless, while Libby maybe be a romantic Pisces, she has one fiery spirit and takes care of her own problems! Garret is my favorite character. He's a down-to-earth reporter-nerd out to find the truth behind the reported ghost spotting at Camden Harbor. I love how he keeps pushing Libby's buttons. It's amusing how they deal with each other while ghost hunting on the Lettie Mae. It's obvious that he has a thing for Libby, but she's blind to his affections until it hits her in the face (almost literally). The story ends with a cute, true realization about teenage love. While this is a light, fun read for the most part, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the references to Harlequin romances, a small almost rape scene, and some sultry outfits that Libby is made to wear for propaganda.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clever story line. The main characters are well developed and enjoyable. If you are looking for a fun quick read, this is it.
emberchyld More than 1 year ago
A nice, quick read with a fun main character and supporting characters. Very Legally Blonde meets history and Scooby Doo, which is a great mix.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. It is so funny, and cute I couldn't bare to part with it until I was done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pack it up and send it with your daughter to camp - a fun read! Can't wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a fun summer read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I skipped from pg 18 to pg 50 to pg 100 - it didn't improve. Hope this wss a free book or i wasted my money.