A native Californian, C. Lee McKenzie, has always loved to write. But she's also been a university lecturer and administrator, and for five years, she wrote and published a newsletter for university professors. She's published articles on linguistics and intercultural communication, as well as on general magazine topics. Her fiction and nonfiction for young readers has been published in the award-winning e-zine, Stories for Children, and Crow Toes Quarterly has published her ghostly tales. Sliding on the Edge was her first young adult novel, which was followed by this second one, The Princess of Las Pulgas. When she isn't writing, Lee hikes in the mountains in Los Gatos, California.
The Princess of Las Pulgasby C Lee McKenzie
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie's mother is forced to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move the family to the other side of the tracks-to dreaded Las Pulgas. At her tough new urban high school, Carlie is nicknamed "Princess" because of her aloof attitude. But what her classmates don't know is that Carlie isn't aloof; she's in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Meanwhile, her younger brother Keith becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, and even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search for her in the hidden orchard beside their seedy apartment complex. They're met by a rifle-toting cowboy who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him in the kitchen having coffee with their mom the next day, having found and returned the cat, she begins to realize that in Las Pulgas, nothing is what it seems.
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Such a wonderful story. It's about dealing with loss. It's about accepting change. And finally learning to be happy where you are while you wait for the next fork in the road. All that and a sweet love story too! The only bad thing about the story was that I had so much work to do, but had to finish the story instead!
It's hard enough for any teen to change high schools, but Carlie is forced to switch in the middle of her junior year after her father dies and the family loses their home by the sea, the home Carlie has grown up in. An old, deteriorating apartment in lower class Las Pulgas is the only thing they can afford. Carlie's brother Keith hates life now and makes lots of enemies at the new high school where the students are a rough bunch. The other kids have no idea that Carlie is withdrawn and not so friendly because she's still mourning her father, the one who seemed to hold the family together. As if being targeted as an uppity snob isn't bad enough, Keith's new enemies take out their anger on Carlie. Aside from living in fear, she's ashamed of her new digs and avoids letting her old friends know she's living in a dump. Her best friend is so caught up in her own social life, she's clueless about Carlie's plight. Carlie realizes she can't risk confiding in her so-called best friend. As Carlie's loneliness and problems continued to mount, I found myself drawn into her life and worried about her safety, grieved with her over the loss of her father and the loss of the life she once knew, and sympathized with the displaced feelings she constantly faced. I cheered her on when she showed strength and began to fight back and stand up for herself. The story unfolds beautifully, especially with some unexpected turns that left me feeling satisfied with the way it ends. I'll never forget Carlie's poignant story.
The Princess of Las Pulgas is about a girl who lost her dad to cancer and then is forced to move to Las Pulgas. Her mother tries desperately to keep up with the mortgage in Channing but with the medical bills left behind and the cost of the funeral she finally decides they have to move to Las Pulgas and she has to get a job. The move devastates Carlie and her brother Keith. The school is dangerous, their apartment complex is dangerous and they feel their lives are now an embarrassment. Carlie is nicknamed Princess because she puts on the snob attitude when she arrives at Las Pulgas. This book was a very meaningful story about how to keep on moving forward after devastation. I won this book and had it sitting on my shelf for a while before picking it up because I have also lost a dad to cancer; I really wanted to read this story but I was also very nervous! The struggles Carlie went through were very realistic to life, the anger towards her father for dying-check, the anger towards herself for being mad at her dad and mom-check, the frustration with how her life will never be the same-check, and the pushing everyone away because you are scared they'll die to-check. What I liked most about this book is the accurate portray of what a family goes through after a death like this, the mom, brother and Carlie were all very realistic characters and my heart went out to the family and the issues they were dealing with! I loved that Carlie stood up for herself too! I thought the story line was pretty unique with the added story about Carlie being in a play and the issues her brother went through too! What I liked least about this book was the friends/people in Carlie's life. I really disliked the character of Lena, she was obnoxious, annoying and really reminded me of a 13 yr old girl instead of 16. I was also disappointed about Sean; I won't go in to why because I don't want to spoil the book but it was displeasing to me that he is the only nice guy in Carlie's life. I also felt like the secondary characters were just not well-developed. I wanted to love Juan, K.T. and all the rest more than I did but there just wasn't much to go on to fully love them! I can't imagine dealing with the death of my dad without the help of God and that was the one thing lacking from this story, I would have loved to see Carlie turn to prayer to help her get through her pain but that is just my opinion. All this being said, I would recommend this book to YA readers, especially those dealing with the loss of a family member or the stress of changing schools in high school. The book was clean for all those interested in knowing that.
Usually we read of stories where the main character starts at the bottom rung of the ladder and works her way to the top. The Princess of Las Pulgas shows the reverse equation. Karly is a teen who lives a privileged life...part of the popular crowd with few worries. That is, until her father's death. Of course, she resists and refuses to accept her circumstances until she is involved in a school play. Slowly she opens her eyes to see the real value of life and notices the superficious behaviors of her former friends. It's a book for teens but as an adult...I loved it. Freddie Remza author of Ride the Wave Journey to Mei
Poor Carlie. After watching her father slowly die of cancer, a move across town might seem trivial; upsetting, but trivial. Fights with her mom, not getting asked out, rude neighbors, or a "pushy" English teacher (in the Tina Fey Mean Girls way) might also seem trivial. But all together? Carlie is helplessly watching her life fall apart around her. Carlie's main problem with her new life in Las Pulgas is all the "poor people," as she sees them. Almost everything she dislikes about the people around her can be attributed to, in Carlie's mind, the fact that they are poor, or at least more poor and classless than the people she used to know. Even though Carlie and her family are in Las Pulgas because of financial problems, she doesn't see anything that she could have in common with her new neighbors and classmates. She puts on a tough front, but it's pretty obvious (to everyone) that she's just scared. She holds herself apart both because she feels she's better than those around her and also because the kids at her high school terrify her, something they pick up on all too easily. Eventually she makes a couple friends, but there is no Big Lesson about class consciousness. ::sigh of relief:: And through all of this growing and learning on Carlie's part, there are play rehearsals. The junior class is putting on Othello, and Carlie has been cast, against her will, as Desdemona. Opposite smokin' hot Juan. And Juan, very sweetly, refuses to take Carlie's crap. He calls her out on her assumptions about her classmates and about him. He drives her nuts (in good and bad ways), but he also protects her from some of her other, scarier, problems at Las Pulgas High. For a while, this pile-up of problems distracts Carlie from the pain of losing her father. It's not as though she forgets about him or even stops being sad. She's just dealing with all of this other things first. But her father's advice keeps sounding in her head telling her to be strong, something she doesn't know if she can do anymore. When she finally faces her feelings about her father (with the help the scene in which Desdemona must say goodbye to her father), it is so real. The Princess of Las Pulgas is an honest look at how Carlie deals with huge upheavals in her life, both a huge change of lifestyle and the death of her father. It still manages to be a suspenseful, romantic, and uplifting read. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher.
I'm going to be honest right off the bat: I am not a fan of YA contemporary novels with female protagonists. Give me a hero fighting demons, struggling with werewolf issues, trying out a new set of angel wings, or even destroying a ring of power. All hail swords, magic, and things that go bump in the night. But. But. I stayed up far too late several nights running because I could not put down The Princess of Las Pulgas. It's that good. There was so much I enjoyed about this book and I don't want to give anything away, but my favorite aspect was the way C. Lee McKenzie dealt with prejudice (from both sides of the track, you might say) through well-conceived characters who you deeply cared about. And the supporting characters were developed just as well as Carlie. I would also recommend McKenzie's debut novel, Sliding on the Edge. I wish the author would write a sequel to The Princess of Las Pulgas. I would love to follow Carlie through her senior year. This book is a must read for 2011!