The Princesses of Iowa

( 7 )

Overview

What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.

Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her ...

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The Princesses of Iowa

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Overview

What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.

Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can't fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Weightier than its title suggests, this well-executed first novel introduces three A-list high school seniors whose perfect lives are in disarray after a drunk-driving accident the previous spring, “After the first cracks that split into canyons between us, sending me spinning across the ocean, Nikki down the Crazy Diet Rabbit Hole, and Lacey into the Land of Crippled Martyrdom.” Narrator Paige is “exiled” to Paris to work as an au pair while her image-conscious mother does damage control. Upon Paige’s return, her friends are cold, distant, and resentful that she was able to escape for the summer. Although the girls put on a front of normalcy once school begins, underlying tensions threaten to undermine their relationship. With the help of a new writing teacher, Paige embarks on a painful but enlightening journey of self-awareness. The conflicts Paige faces and the changes she undergoes are powerfully evoked. Backes addresses guilt, deceit, homophobia, loyalty, and the burden of keeping up appearances in a brutally believable high school setting as Paige recognizes the weaknesses of loved ones and her own imperfections. Ages 14–up. Agent: Becca Stumpf, Prospect Agency. (May)
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
After spending the summer in France, Paige has returned to her small hometown to friends she hardly knows and a life she's not sure she wants. For as long as she can remember, she and her two best friends have been preparing themselves to be crowned homecoming court but thanks to the teens' drunk-driving accident the previous spring nothing is as it used to be. While being routinely shunned by her previous crowd she throws herself into her creative writing class where a new teacher and different classmates open up a world of possibilities. Through a series of minor scandals she deals with jealousy, anger, loss, and bullying while shifting her perspective of what is important, learning tolerance and how to stand up for what you believe. She also begins to piece together the truth of what happened that spring night and finds the courage to face up to her part in everything. There are a lot of things going on in a short period of time and a lot of issues at play including race, sexuality and class discrimination and underage drinking/drugs, but somehow it all seems to work. Paige's evolution is relatively swift but painful and realistic while many of the people around her remain shallow and unchanged. While there's enough drama and angst for it to read like a teen soap opera there's also enough honest substance to appease parents and teachers. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
VOYA - Christina Fairman
This intelligent novel highlights the consequences of high school peer pressure, jealousy, and prejudice. The setting will be familiar to readers, most of whom have seen athletes and wealthy party girls perch at the top of the social hierarchy while everyone else revolves around the periphery. Paige Sheridan has always been a part of this social elite, blindly assuming its self-indulgent and judgmental behaviors. Life is seemingly easy, until a drunken party leads to a car accident in which Paige almost dies and one of her friends comes close to losing a leg. Now Paige may lose her friends as they drift apart, prisoners of their own depression and anger. Her only saving grace is a creative writing course that bolsters her independence and introduces Paige to new people who accept her without judgment. This novel demonstrates that even popular kids have challenges in high school. It reads smoothly without the weight of melodrama, in spite of the serious storyline. Paige is a likeable, convincing protagonist who engenders sympathy. A subplot involving homophobia is realistic, albeit a bit simplistic, and may spark a few discussions among readers. A brief scene of attempted sexual assault is short on graphic description. The language is teen appropriate, with only a handful of expletives. Drinking and random sex are part of the storyline, but the descriptions are not gratuitous and are portrayed in light of their negative consequences. Teens who enjoy realistic fiction that is not too edgy will like this believable novel. Reviewer: Christina Fairman
Kirkus Reviews
In the wake of a drunk-driving accident, a girl destined to be homecoming queen finds herself wondering who she really is. Paige was hustled off to France for the summer by her parents to get over the shame. When she gets back to school in the fall, it's hard to fall back into sync with her best friends, also in the accident. Worse, her boyfriend, though he swears he still loves her and seems to like making out with her, is spending an awful lot of time with one of them. Paige is surprised to find that the best class of the day is creative writing, where she makes friends with a couple of kids on the fringe. Through writing exercises, she revisits the night of the accident and interrogates herself--and she doesn't always like what she learns. Paige's journey out of the Mean Girls IT group won't shock readers, but it unfolds with pleasingly realistic hesitations, as does her relationship with the new, uncool boy. Backes has more trouble with her secondary characters; while some feel very real, others never depart from stereotype. Subplots involving homophobic attacks on the writing teacher, Paige's difficult relationship with her social-climbing mother and an anti–drunk-driving campaign weave in and out with sometimes-faltering success, particularly the last. But the writing is fluid, Paige is a likably unreliable narrator and the high-school setting is believably sordid. A mostly solid, if a little too long, high-school drama. (Fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
A well-executed first novel... Backes addresses guilt, deceit, homophobia, loyalty, and the burden of keeping up appearances in a brutally believable high school setting as Paige recognizes the weaknesses of loved ones and her own imperfections.
—Publishers Weekly

In this debut novel, Backes takes Dead Poets Society and brings it into the age of Mean Girls. Her writing style is witty while still being relatable, and the themes of acceptance and identity will ring true to teens... Backes re-creates a world that most teens already live in, with the overarching message that anyone can become more than what others perceive them to be.
—School Library Journal

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—"Everyone knows you're not supposed to drink and drive," begins Paige Sheridan. Before the accident, she had been leading the life of a popular, privileged teen. Then one night of partying brings her perfect world to a halt. She and her two best friends were extremely lucky, and only Lacey had any lasting injury, but they were separated for the summer as their parents' exercised damage control. Paige was sent off to Paris as an unpaid babysitter, a job that sounded more exciting than it really was. When she returns, her friends and boyfriend become distant and unfriendly, while her mother expects her to carry on being the homecoming queen she was meant to be. Paige takes refuge in her creative writing class, where Mr. Tremont, an inspiring teacher, and some outsider classmates encourage her to be herself. But who is Paige Sheridan? Is she just a princess? Or is she something more? In this debut novel, Backes takes Dead Poets Society and brings it into the age of Mean Girls. Her writing style is witty while still being relatable, and the themes of acceptance and identity will ring true to teens. One aspect of the narrative deals with Mr. Tremont's possible homosexuality in an extremely close-minded town. Though this issue becomes one of the larger plot points, it is never fully addressed or resolved. While this may be less satisfying to readers, it is a realistic outcome. Backes re-creates a world that most teens already live in, with the overarching message that anyone can become more than what others perceive them to be.—Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Stark County District Library, Canton, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763653125
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,021,450
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

M. Molly Backes is an exciting new talent in the world of young adult novels. After graduating from Grinnell College in Iowa, she moved to New Mexico, where she taught middle school and got 150 of her students to write novels for National Novel Writing Month. She now lives in Chicago, where she works at StoryStudio, Chicago's center for writing and the related arts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Princesses of Iowa is a book about a high society girl who g

    The Princesses of Iowa is a book about a high society girl who gets into an ‘accident’ with a bunch of her friends during her last days of her spring semester and ends up being exiled to work as a nanny in Paris. Now you might think this is glamorous, but in fact the time she spent there was of her wearing the baby’s food on her clothes and passed out on her very uncomfortable bed. When she returns to her senior year at school, she finds out that one of her friends, Lacey, is crippled from the accident, and the other one, Nikki is on the verge of becoming anorexic. Her boyfriend, Jake has become a bit distant and has been spending too much time with Lacey because of her crippled leg and her needing all the help and moral support she can get. This is where the problems start.
    Now, I really didn’t like how Paige, the female protagonist, at the beginning, stays quiet with the way Lacey was treating her, if a friend did this to me I would instantly confront her and try to understand WHY she is acting like this. Also Jake was a bit of a jerk and I couldn’t stand him. He is a jock and for some reason books always have this stereotype where jocks are all jerks who take fun in making fun of anyone who doesn’t conform to their ideas of ‘normal’, one of the victims was Ethan, a new student; they all call him a ‘fag’ and try to make fun of him any chance they get. Again, I really didn’t like how Paige just stood there and let them ridicule him while at the same time, later on she started to hang out with him and his friend Shanti ‘secretly’ and ignore them when she’s hanging out with the popular kids. Isn’t that just being a bit two-faced?
    I really liked Ethan and Shanti; they were the only two likable characters in this whole book. They were funny, totally amusing, and true to themselves. While Paige does start off as unlikable, I did like her character development and they way she handled things towards the end. The plot of the story was interesting, it is a contemporary novel that might relate to thousands of girls out there who have been a victim of having to follow the popular kids and maybe unresolved problems with friends. This book teaches you to stand up for yourself no matter the situation and in the end to do the right thing, which is something that many people run and cope out from. All in all, while The Princesses of Iowa might have gotten on my nerves at the first half of the book, the last half made up for it

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    I'm old. High school was a long time ago--but I loved this book.

    I'm old. High school was a long time ago--but I loved this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Interesting

    Had a really good meaning. An excellent plot too

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    The Pricess Of Iowa

    I personaly loved this book.The story line was pretty great, but could have been written slightly better. So anyways, The Princess Of Iowa is about a popular girl named Paige. She has two other '' best friends '' named Lacey and Nikki. Last Spring they all were in a car crash and that left Lacey crippled. Personaly I hated Lacey I thought that she was stuck up and rude and mean and didn't deserve anything that she had and it seemed like Nikki was always drunk so I did not favor her much. She also developes new friendships with a girl named Shanti and a boy named Ethan. Shanti is brilliant and opioniated and Ethan is sweet, kind and also smart. But her boyfriend Jake is occasionaly sweet but most of the time a jerk. I would reccomend this book to many customers

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    The Princesses of Iowa

    I thought Lacey was a stuck-up prissy piece of crap and i would have loved for her to be all alone. I means Paige was babysitting all summer and Lacey didnt even give her a chance to explain which I think is dumb to begin with. The whole Jake and Lacey thing got on my nerves too. The least they could have done is be less couple-y and I dont think Jake was necessarily a jerk, just confused at times as to when he needed to take responsibility for his faults. I like how the book ended but it didnt explain if Lacey and Paige ever truly made up, because I know Nikki was fine with Paige. To be honest , my favorite character was Nikki, because unlike the other two, she actually tried to help educate more people about the dangers of drinking and driving, while the other two were busy being douchbags. Ethan and Paige are very sweet with each other and I'm glad they finally got together. It was a very enjoyable book and I think you should read it. <br> <br> ~QB

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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