Sass & Serendipity

Sass & Serendipity

4.3 8
by Jennifer Ziegler

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For Daphne, the glass is always half full. A situation is better managed with a dab of lip gloss, and the boy of her dreams—the one she's read about in all of her novels—is waiting for her just around the corner.

For Gabby, nothing ever works out positively. Wearing any form of makeup is a waste of study time, and boys will only leave you heartbroken.

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For Daphne, the glass is always half full. A situation is better managed with a dab of lip gloss, and the boy of her dreams—the one she's read about in all of her novels—is waiting for her just around the corner.

For Gabby, nothing ever works out positively. Wearing any form of makeup is a waste of study time, and boys will only leave you heartbroken. Her best friend, Mule, is the only one who has been there for her every step of the way.

But when the richest boy in school befriends Gabby, and Daphne starts to hang out more and more with her best friend, Mule, Gabby is forced to confront the emotional barriers she has put up to stop the hurting. And for once, her sassiness may fall prey to her definition of stupidity.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Haley Maness
This fresh and cheerful update of the familiar classic Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen shows the author's love for the original story. Gabby, a realistic eighteen-year-old who is the "pretty one" of the family, rolls her eyes when her younger sister, Daphne, swoons over the new boy in her grade. She does not believe in love, Fate, or Destiny. But when she sees her sister's relationship blossom, and finds an unexpected love of her own, she discovers she may be wrong. Each sister has her own distinct voice and well developed personality in this delightful read. Sisterly love is strongly promoted. A slightly unrealistic portrayal of teenage love can be overlooked as this story of meeting your soul mate unexpectedly is taken from a classic, and the storyline will never fail to be a success. The author uses intricate similes to make even mundane events seem extraordinary. This fun retelling will make you want to read, or even re-read the original Sense and Sensibility to see if the original story was really this good. Reviewer: Haley Maness
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—The only thing the Rivera sisters have in common is that they live in Barton, TX. Both girls are dealing with their parents' divorce but they take different sides. Fifteen-year-old Daphne blames her mom for her dad's disappearance while Gabby, 17, is sure that it is her dad's fault. She is an independent realist and spends most of her time with her best friend, Mule Randolph. Daphne is a dreamer and always looks on the bright side. She only has eyes for Luke, and she's so sure that he will ask her to the prom that she uses much-needed money to buy a dress well in advance. The siblings' lives don't get much better when their mom tells them that they are losing their home and must find a new place to live. With both girls finding companionship in unlikely places, they are brought together and see one another's point of view more clearly. While the book is slow at times and there is little action other than sisterly drama, there's bound to be an audience for this novel. It comes out just as the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is being celebrated. Even though there is no correlation between the books, the author hopes that readers will find an appreciation for the Rivera sisters just as they did for the Dashwoods.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
Kirkus Reviews

Billed as a retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility but reading more like "sisters on the verge of a nervous breakdown," this potentially buoyant comic novel sinks under the weight of its unwieldy high concept.

Dad's departure, leaving Mom to cope on a small salary without child support, turned Gabby, 17, into a grumpily dutiful misanthrope who's given up on love. She helps at home, works a miserable job and studies hard, then vents her frustrations on her irresponsible sister and faithful, torch-bearing Mule. Hiding a secret, Gabby repeatedly rejects overtures from handsome, wealthy Prentiss, who's gone out of his way to help her family. At the other pole of emotional dysfunction, immature and self-centered Daphne, 15, carries her fantasies of finding true love with a boy she's barely met to scary extremes. Ziegler's affectionate portrait of small-town Texas life and sharply observed secondary characters, such as Sheri who "always gave compliments as if she were complaining," bring the story to intermittent life. With their intense emotions permanently set to 11, though, the exasperating sisters have little in common with Elinor and Marianne. Austen's attention, humor and insight weren't given to deep emotions in themselves, but to how we govern them—and what happens when we don't.

Readers are advised to stick to the original. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The dress in the window of Shelly's Boutique was not a tasteful pink. It was an unnatural, overly shiny, shout-in-your-face pink. Barbie-aisle pink. Putrid-antidiarrhea-medicine pink. Slutty-disco-queen-on-LSD pink.

Or, as the residents of Barton, Texas (population 5,853), would probably refer to it: hawt pank.

Gabriella Rivera automatically curled her upper lip—making her tilde mouth, as her mother liked to call the expression—and muttered, "God, look at that. When did hooker fashions become formal wear?"

Mule quit slurping down his sixty-four-ounce Dr Pepper and shrugged. "What do you expect? It's prom season."

"It is not prom season," Gabby replied. "It is the middle of March. I barely survived the big Valentine's freak-out without throwing myself off a cliff. Now I have to see this crap everywhere for two months?" She gestured toward the display window.

Mule considered the dresses while continuing to sip from his near-empty soda cup, making loud squelching noises through the straw.

"Besides, prom shouldn't even be a season," Gabby went on. "Not like a holiday season or flu season. It's just a dumb party."

"So? It's not like you're going anyway," Mule pointed out. He stuck the straw back into his mouth and sucked noisily. Gabby resisted the urge to grab the monster-sized drink out of his hand and chuck it at his head. She imagined the crushed ice scattered about his brown curls, glistening like jewels, and the weak soda residue spattering his white T-shirt with the faded Captain America image on the front.

She didn't know why she was so annoyed with him today. His know-it-all tone was getting on her nerves even more than usual. Maybe it was because school had been extra-infuriating that day, with everyone shrieking about prom. Or maybe it was the fact that she had to go to her lame job at the lame movie theater in half an hour.

Or maybe it was because her dad was coming for a visit at the end of the week, just like he did every third Saturday of the month. A stale routine of dinner and some sort of god-awful bonding ritual in the form of cheap entertainment—like bowling or minigolf.

Or maybe it was because she knew her younger sister would be an off-the-charts lunatic this weekend. Daphne was usually late and unprepared. But when Dad came she'd spend hours trying on different outfits (tossing her rejects on the floor between their beds) and then sit on the porch waiting for him a half hour early—completely insensitive to their mom's feelings. It had to sting seeing your daughter make a big gushy deal over your deadbeat ex, but did Daphne care? No. Watching her squeal and bounce over his arrival, you'd think he was rescuing her from the clutches of an ogre.

Basically everything in Gabby's life sucked right now. So she really didn't want to hear Mule's actual sucking sounds.

"But don't you hate all this romantic bull?" she went on, hoping to drown out the noise with her own voice. "It's even worse than Valentine's Day. Instead of cheap, five-dollar crap everywhere, there's like chintzy, three-hundred-dollar crap everywhere."

"I don't know," Mule said, making a neutral half smile, half grimace. "It doesn't bother me too much. I figure, as long as they don't make me go, I'm okay with it."

Gabby sighed. Of course he would just accept it. Mule accepted everything stupid and horrible in life. Including his rotten nickname.

Seventeen years ago, for some strange reason, every woman who gave birth to a boy in Fayette Memorial Hospital had named her son Samuel. Four boys—all in the same grade. By the end of elementary school it was all sorted out, though. Samuel Milburn got to be Sam, since he was the biggest and coolest—and he basically claimed it first. Samuel Farnsworth, the next coolest (and most spastic), got to be Sammy. And Samuel Moore got to stay Samuel. That left a skinny, half-Jewish wiseass named Samuel Randolph with nothing but the second syllable to set him apart from the others. Thus the moniker Mule was bestowed upon him, and since none of the other Samuels had had the decency to move away, die, or get a sex change, he'd had to keep it throughout his school career.

"What's the theme again?" Mule asked.


"This year's prom theme. What is it?"

Gabby made her eyes big and dumb-looking. "A Walk in the Clouds," she said breathily.

Mule snorted. "Sounds impractical. Why not call it Bird Crap on My Tuxedo? Or Bugs in My Teeth?"

"A 747 Ruined My Hair!" Gabby mock screeched, grabbing her long, dark waves.

The two of them laughed and pantomimed some more, hooking elbows and flapping their free arms. It was supersilly and totally juvenile, but Gabby didn't care. At least she got a good laugh in before work.

Mule was always good for that—when he wasn't being annoying.

Ms. Manbeck was going to lose it.

Daphne Rivera raced down the corridor from the gymnasium, through a pair of squeaky metal doors, and up the stairs to the 200 wing. The skirt of her JV cheerleading uniform swished rhythmically about her legs and her ponytail swung in an almost complete circle.

She was dead. Ms. Manbeck would surely kill her in some slow, torturous way. This would be Daphne's third tardy this grading period, and her teacher was going to shriek nonstop. She'd probably do that weird twitchy thing, the one that made it look as if her face were being sucked backward into her left eye socket. She might even call Daphne's mom.

That was all Daphne needed. Her mom had been so stressed lately about the bills and her job. If she got a screechy phone call from Ms. Manbeck, she'd start handing out punishments as if they were Halloween candy—a you-should-know-better-young-lady lecture . . . grounding . . . cell phone confiscation . . . and . . . Oh, god! She might change her mind about letting Daphne go to prom this year!

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