If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

by Barbara Ehrentreu

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If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. How many times do we hear this in a lifetime? Jennifer Taylor seems to have it all. The money, the looks, the grades, the boy… Carolyn Samuels has lived in Jennifer’s shadow throughout school and now, with the pivotal move to senior high, the trend shows no sign of going away. “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe” is a mantra that follows her into high school and, with the first day of school upon her, their alphabetical arrangement promises to continue the agony. But when Carolyn finds herself linked to Jennifer in an immoral pact of secrecy, her life changes in ways she never could have imagined. Balancing a fine line between her best friends Becky and Janie on one side and Jennifer on the other, Carolyn learns the true value of loyalty and the importance of appreciating a life she always imagined as sub-par. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu is the quintessential tale of adolescence. While Carolyn experiences the need to be accepted at the popular table, the “pretty people” fall deeper into their own hidden insecurities. Carolyn realizes the value of being true to herself as she struggles with the need to be accepted. Combined with a respectful sub-plot of realistic issues with weight, emotional acceptance, and the growing pains of first love, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor captures the very essence of teenage angst in this clean YA novel. My heart aches for Carolyn and my head nods in sympathy.
CinW More than 1 year ago
I don’t want to be like Jennifer Taylor.  I want to be like Carolyn Samuels. I knew what I was getting into when I picked up If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. I knew it would be a high school coming-of-age story. And I knew there would be a great ending. What I didn’t know was how good the entire experience was going to be. It was more than good. It was great. What struck me most about the book was how easy it was to read. I started reading this book and did not put it down until I finished reading it. I am not exaggerating. This was a fun, feel good story; that is true. But it was more than that. This book deals with several heavy subject matters. Peer pressure, psychological disorders – and  Ehrentreu handles it flawlessly. All though the mind of a fourteen year old lead character. Ehrentreu’s strength lies in her ability to make you relate to the characters she is writing about. Everybody who has ever been to high school knows what it is like to want to be the most popular person. But what isn’t know is what those most popular people have to put up with to stay in their top spot. I recognized the need in Carolyn, but I sympathized with Jennifer. No matter how perfect her life seemed on the outside, it was gilded. And in a way, she was chained to the desire we all hope for ourselves. To be accepted. To be the best. To be the champion. Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Young Adult fiction, but especially to kids who are around that high school age. There are some strong lessons here. This story is not a PSA by any means, but the underlying messages are too strong to ignore. Fantastic job. Fantastic story. Fantastic message. What’s not to love?
Megan_S More than 1 year ago
High school is a difficult time in anyone's life, even for the overly popular. We all struggled with finding ourselves, dealing with bullies, talking to our crush, and so much more. It was a time of discovery and self-awareness and acceptance. And it's these things that Barbara Ehrentreu has managed to capture so wonderfully in her debut Young Adult novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. The story starts out much like you'd expect, a young girl is going off to her first day of high school, surrounded by friends and nervous if her previous mishaps will follow her into her new school. But what's unique about Carolyn Samuels is that she's one of those young girls who sees models and actresses and other girls at school with their perfect hair, perfect clothes, and perfect bodies and judges herself based on what she sees. Because she isn't as skinny as a rail or have blonde hair, she feels as if she's less than everyone around her, that she doesn't have any good qualities about herself. Through the story, we see Carolyn grow and change into someone with self-confidence, but it takes so much for her to reach this place. It all starts when Jennifer Taylor, whom she considered to be her arch nemesis, is in some of her classes and all the problems from the previous year weigh heavily on her shoulders. Through an unlikely friendship, the two teens develop sympathy for each other and grow close. While at first, you think one may have an ulterior motive for doing so, it's refreshing to find out at the end that the friendship that grows is a true one. But what would a high school story be if not for bullying, drama, lies, and boys? This novel seems to have a bit of everything, and while that could sometimes prove to be problematic and  cliche, Ehrentreu manages to create a story that is not only rather believable, but one that is like a breath of fresh air. It seems like the unpopular girl always has a crush on the star football player who is dating the queen bee, and in this case, that's true. However, Carolyn doesn't get the boy; at least, not in the way you think. And that was a smart choice on the writer's behalf. Nobody wants to read the same story over and over, and while many of the ideas in the Young Adult genre are very similar, each writer has to take it upon themselves to change them and make them unique. Getting into the story itself is a little difficult at first as the dialogue can become heavy at times. Added to that, the voice of the narrator seems to change when going from inside her head to when she's speaking with her friends. The narrator that you come to know is well-spoken for a teen, but her dialogue comes off rather "valley girl," which is strange considering this story is set in the East Coast. There's this disconnect there, but it rights itself about a solid third through the story.  The pacing of the story is also shaky at first. It seems to move so quickly through each scene that you feel like you're not getting all of what is going on, but it slows down near the second half and becomes more comfortable for the reader. Aside from this, there are some confusing parts of just when everything is happening. The story takes place over the span of a year, but it feels like just weeks have gone by as you reach the end of the story.  The development of Carolyn seems sudden, and the fact that she pretty much ditches her friends to spend more time with her old enemy is rather strange and abrupt. We understand the why behind it, but the pacing for this is just a little fast. However, we slowly see her grow a backbone and stand up for herself and talk to those she would normally avoid, which I think was handled very well.  If there was one thing I wanted more of from this story it would be more of the side characters, Becky and Janie. We see glimpses of them, but they're just superficial at best. We don't see their motivation, or their importance. Yes, they're there for Carolyn as supporting friends, but if they weren't in the story, there wouldn't have been much of a change in the tale. But perhaps the mot important thing that this book has to offer is the insight into the pressure faced by the popular kids. Jennifer Taylor, the beautiful cheerleader with the football player boyfriend, the girl with the wealthy family. On the surface, her life is perfect, but underneath, she's hiding a devastating and debilitating secret. She's bulimic. This disease isn't usually handled with such care and understanding in most teen novels. It's either something so disgusting and revoting and shameful, or it ignored and not addressed at all. The author has managed to draw attention to the issue with sensitivity, and shows just how powerful this disease can be. The detail and the emotions that are connected to it speak volumes, not only about the character, but about the difficulties that come with not only personally dealing with it, but helping the person who has it.  I think that for any young woman who is just starting off high school or those who love the Young Adult genre will find that this novel, while not perfect, provides a true description of the high school experience and what the different types of people go through and how they cope. It's a coming-of-age story, with friendship, drama, and budding romance rolled together to create a unique experience.  This is one book I would definitely recommend.
LadybugLinLH More than 1 year ago
HIGH SCHOOL...Will it be any different than {gulp} MIDDLE SCHOOL? Carolyn Samuels sure hopes so...But how can it be any different when her arch-enemy, the all too perfect Jennifer Taylor passes into High School right along with her? Cringing with the memories of how Jennifer and her best friend ridiculed her all through the last year, Carolyn prepares for the worst. IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR is a journey through the rites of passage between adolescent angst and dawning maturity. Ms. Ehrentreu, a former teacher, knows how to reveal the deepest insecurities and the true path one travels when the egocentricity of adolescence no longer serves our deepest needs. This book is one every teacher should incorporate in their lesson plans, and every tween through young adult should read at least...once. The messages woven throughout its pages are current, important, and well-defined. FIVE STARS aren't enough for the wealth of information and the heart wrenching way this story is told, but the maximum I can give...so FIVE STARS for IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR and a Well Done for Ms. Ehrentreu.
Momof2bookreviews More than 1 year ago
The other night I began reading If I Could be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu. Having read so many paranormal romance books recently, this one was a breath of fresh air. Not that I have anything against paranormal romance, it was just nice to have a change. If I could be Like Jennifer Taylor introduces us to freshmen student Carolyn Samuels. She is far from popular, overweight and often times the brunt of jokes at school. There is one girl, Jennifer Taylor, that has made Carolyn’s life hell all through middle school. As the first day of high school arrives, Carolyn doesn’t even want to go to school because she doesn’t want to deal with Jennifer. In the end she has to go of course and it appears Jennifer has not changed at all. Of course they are in the same math class because they are both in honors and they have gym together since it is scheduled alphabetically. As Carolyn sits in gym on the first day, Jennifer gets back to her old games and begins teasing Carolyn. Carolyn has a fainting spell and has to be taken to the nurse. Jennifer escorts her, but if Carolyn wants Jennifer to keep this embarassing situation a secret, it will cost her. She agrees to do what Jennifer asked her and pretty soon she is in over her head. Was being popular really worth all of the trouble and lies? How long can she keep lying to her true friends? Is it possible that Jennifer isn’t really as bad as she thought all of these years? Is her crush really paying attention to her? How does Jennifer stay so thin? Is she hiding anything? Carolyn will get the answer to all of these questions before the year is over. Her life is going to change immensely during the process. Will she be able to remember to breathe and be able to make it through? I loved this book. It was an easy and entertaining read. Ehrentreu addresses a lot of serious issues in this book. From bullying to other things. (I don’t want to give too much away!) It was very nice to see these issues brought up. Unfortunately, even though they happen in every single school on a daily basis, they are often ignored. Reading this book will really make you pay special attention to the little things going on around you. The end of the book definitely gave me some closure as well, which I love. I would recommend this book to everyone, but I would especially recommend it to young girls. It covered so many issues that the young ladies of today face, and I think it could definitely help some of them to face their problems. Great job on this one Barbara! I don’t have any daughters of my own, but I will definitely be recommending it to my friends daughters!
Barbara29 More than 1 year ago
The various themes of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor make it ideal for teen girls who might be facing issues such as body image, bullying, non-attentive parents, and the competitive anxieties of school sports. How much should a girl reveal of one person's secrets to others, and do parents count? I highly recommend this book for insights into the world of high school today or for sheer enjoyment.