A pitch-perfect tween/teen vibe? Varnoff has it in spades as Lily Blennerhassett, a 13-year-old aspiring writer with lots to share about the family, friends and life she considers fabulously boring and oh-so-uncool. In keeping with the novel's humorous `Can-you-believe-this-is-happening-to-me?' tone, Varnoff effortlessly expresses Lily's exasperation with her parents, her penchant for typical teenage melodramatics and a blend of cockiness and insecurity-sometimes all in the space of a few sentences. Lily believes her social situation can't get worse when she's forced to attend a drab and bland family wedding. But when the cool LeBlanc family, described as "cousins of cousins," shows up looking very out of place, Lily has the impression that things will improve. She enjoys a brief, rebellious run at coolness as she befriends the newcomers, but soon discovers that the LeBlancs aren't what they appear to be, and her own parents aren't so bad after all. Snappy phrasing and lots of literary references will keep sharp listeners entertained and on their toes. Ages 9-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Future Biographers, take note: Lily Blennerhassett is keeping a diary. When she becomes a rich and famous writer, her take on her thirteen-year-old life will be here for you to study—the good, the bad, and the very funny. At the start of the book, Lily's in despair; her best friend Charlotte has abandoned her for Young Executive Camp and her parents make her crazy—particularly because they're normal, boring parents who are failing to provide her with the rich experiences she thinks she will need to produce a great novel someday. Enter the LeBlancs—distant relatives who fascinate Lily with their expensive taste in clothes, vegetarianism, and environmental activism. After they manage to scam Lily into loaning them her family's vacation house and then sue her family for $1.3 million, they lose their thrall for Lily, who learns to appreciate what she has. Lily's adoration of the LeBlanc family wears a bit thin, but overall, this is an entertaining novel that middle-school girls will pass to their friends. 2003, HarperCollins Children's Books, Ages 10 to 13.
Anne Marie Pace
This novel might surprise some readers. The title and cover art, as well as the tone of the book's first few chapters, signal that it will be a light-hearted, female-oriented novel about a typical suburban thirteen-year-old girl. Lily Blennerhassett is just that sort of narrator, but her exuberant, self-centered chirpiness is subjected to some major strains as events unfold. Lily begins her story saying, "My life lacks excitement," and she is eager to break away. Before long, Lily finds just the sort of excitement she has been seeking in the company of the LeBlancs, a glamorous and adventurous family she meets at a wedding. Charles and Veronique LeBlanc and their daughter, Karma, exude all of the style and charisma that Lily admires. She is thrilled when they take an interest in her, and she feels "on the brink of cool" when she is with them. She eventually finds that the thrills come with an unexpected price tag. The novel is presented as Lily's summer diary through September and her fourteenth birthday. As in other recent diary novels, such as Jaclyn Moriarty's Feeling Sorry for Celia (St. Martin's, 2000/VOYA April 2001) and Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson books, the diary format is stretched to implausible limits, as if the diarist were recording fresh entries in her journal almost continuously. Aside from that quibble, this diary novel is well told, presenting an initially naïve narrator, who has an intense social adventure that forcefully teaches her about substance versus appearances. PLB
Lily is convinced that summer is going to be a real drag. The camp she has gone to every summer has closed, and her best friend has decided to go to a Young Executives' Camp instead. Since Lily was unable to muster up any enthusiasm for such an undertaking, she is resigned to staying at home. Her only joy is gained from writing in her notebook, a voluntary assignment for Honors English. Then, everything changes. While attending a family wedding, Lily meets her distant relatives, the LeBlancs. Charles and Veronique exude an aura of sophistication, as does their daughter, Karma. Lily wants nothing more than to gain Karma's friendship. She wants to soak up a bit of their "cool," and she's willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Kimmel's novel is a first-person account of the summertime drama of one excruciatingly self-conscious teen as she attempts to define herself apart from her parents. Lily's over-the-top narrative voice will likely appeal to many middle school readers. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2005, HarperCollins, 272p., Ages 12 to 15.
Heidi Hauser Green
Gr 5-8-Lily Blennerhassett's summer can't get any worse. Her best friend has left to attend Young Executive Camp and life at home is absolutely uninteresting. To stave off the boredom, she records her up-to-the-minute thoughts and the details of her life in her journal. Then she meets Charles and Veronique LeBlanc and their daughter Karma at cousin Delia's wedding. The LeBlancs are sophisticated, they care about the environment, and they DO things. Lily gets swept up in their causes, recording all the events in her diary, which also details how these professional con artists use this naive 13-year-old, abuse her trust, and eventually sue her family for $1.3 million. The pacing of the book is fast and smooth. Attuned readers will catch on to the con game, as there's a hint of unease in Lily's meetings with Karma that's exciting yet creepy. Lily is a likable teen who wants more than she has, only to discover that what she has is pretty darn good. By book's end, she has changed from a whiny kid who judges everyone to a wiser person who can question those judgments.-Linda Bindner, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Pay attention, future biographers. Writer-to-be Lily Blennerhassett wants you to know her secrets-plus she's getting credit for this vacation diary. It's going to be a dull summer: Lily's parents schedule outings to yarn-making seminars and accordion factories and her best friend is at Young Executive Camp. But at an otherwise dreadful family wedding, Lily meets her fascinating LeBlanc cousins. The family snubs cool cousin Karma and parents, but Lily adores them. They're beautiful, stylish, and definitely not boring. Despite her parents' disapproval, Lily spends much of the summer visiting the LeBlancs. She loves their environmental group, Hug the Planet, and their fancy clothes and food. Though Lily won't see it, the untrustworthy LeBlancs exploit her financially. When she gives her cousins the key to her family's summer cabin, things go horribly wrong. Is Lily too gullible to be a writer? Will she need to become an accountant instead? A delightful heroine, sweeter than predecessors Georgia Nicholson and Adrian Mole-and hilarious. (Fiction. 9-14)