The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City in a wickedly funny debut novel about a girl who lands a dream internship at a magazine in New York City. If only she hadn’t lied about being a dating expert on her resume…
Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb.
Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.
There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. But she can just learn on the job...right? Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Laura Stampler is a Californian turned New Yorker. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a journalist, interning—and then worked on staff—at various newspapers and magazines. Laura has written about everything from dating to social media stars to social justice issues at Time magazine, Business Insider, Huffington Post, The Nation, The New Republic, and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably looking at pug gifs on the Internet.
Read an Excerpt
Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies
I’M SWAYING BY MYSELF AT Bobby McKittrick’s summer kickoff party—surrounded by couples whose Dance Floor Make-Outs are so intense, so ravenous, I’m kind of worried someone’s going to drop down dead due to suffocation—when I get what might be the most important phone call of my life.
Of course, I don’t realize the magnitude of this moment when I see the unfamiliar number flash on my phone. I don’t even recognize the area code. To be honest, I’m just excited to answer a real call instead of a fake one, the kind I usually pretend to get during awkward party lulls. So I don’t think twice when I answer it on the dance floor, loudly shouting “Hello?” over an even louder “Keg stand! Keg stand!” chant crescendoing from the corner of Bobby’s backyard. (As a graduation treat, Bobby’s older brother is giving the departing seniors a tutorial in college-party etiquette, which apparently involves kegs and then dangling people by their feet above said kegs as they chug beer upside down.)
My hello is answered by an indecipherable garble.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you!” I shout again.
(“Keg stand! KEG STAND!”)
“Wait, wait, stop! Just hold on one sec!”
I try not to spill my one-third beer, two-thirds foam–filled red party cup as I maneuver around the blindly gyrating Dance Floor Make-Outers to a less populated part of the yard and sit on the outdoor swingy-bench next to a passed-out dude whose face is decorated with a drawn-on, very accurate portrayal of male anatomy. Real classy, guys.
Rule number one for aspiring writers is to steer clear of clichés, which makes living in Castalia, California—where every social gathering feels like it was ripped from a bad teen movie—less than ideal.
“Okay,” I say into the phone. The bench swings as I sit. “Try again.”
I hear a loud sigh on the other end of the line, followed by an exasperated and syncopated, “I said is this Har-per An-der-son?”
“Yeah.” I take a sip of my drink. “Who’s this?”
“Well, finally,” the female voice on the other end says.
“And you are . . .” I start to wipe the foam mustache residue off my upper lip. This is one persistent telemarketer.
“This is McKayla Rae from Shift magazine.”
I stop wiping. And maybe breathing.
“Harper, did you hear me? I said that this is McKayla Rae, the assistant managing editor of Shift magazine.”
Yup, definitely stopped breathing. Clearly I misidentified who was at risk of asphyxiation tonight.
Finally my brain tells my lungs to breathe and my mouth to speak.
“Sorry. Yes! This is Harper! Oh shit, I said that already, didn’t I? I mean, not shit. Forget I said ‘shit.’ I mean, yes! Yes, I heard you, McKay—er—Ms. Rae.”
Okay, so my brain didn’t specify that my mouth should speak eloquently.
“Right, McKayla. Sorry.”
“Stop saying ‘sorry.’ Women overapologize for things they have no reason to apologize for. Shift Girls are strong. Shift Girls don’t say ‘sorry.’ Ever.”
“Sor-sounds good.” I just barely catch myself. “I am no longer sorry about anything under any circumstances. Got it.”
God, I hope that didn’t sound sarcastic. I take another gulp of foam.
“This is important because, Harper, I’ve called to let you know that you are now a Shift Girl. Or, you will be if you accept our summer internship.”
I drop my cup on my sandals, spilling lukewarm beer on my toes, and don’t even care because Oh My God.
Which comes out as “OMIGOD!”
“I take that as a yes?”
To say that my night has taken an unexpected turn would be an understatement. Up until about two minutes ago, I had resigned myself to an anticlimactic three months before my senior year of high school spending my days working behind the counter at Skinny B’s Smoothies with my best friend, Kristina, and my nights going to kickbacks so similar to one another, they start to feel like reruns, all destined to be shut down by the Castalia Police before midnight.
Granted, I had aspired to a summer that was slightly more glamorous than memorizing antioxidants and blending acai berries into drinks for aggressive water polo moms. (Think soccer moms, only taller.)
Shift was the dream.
Because even though I’m having trouble stringing words together while McKayla waits for me to say not just “yes” but “hell, yes,” I want to be a writer. Badly.
And not only is Shift the biggest teen magazine in, well, anywhere, but it’s also the only magazine (well, anywhere) that hires interns who are still in high school. Usually I find rah-rah, children-are-our-future, teary-eyed teen-empowerment mission statements kind of cheesy. But when I saw Shift’s Facebook post calling out to sixteen-to-nineteen-year-old aspiring journalists, I applied. I didn’t tell anyone I applied, but I did. Writing and rewriting an “edgy personal essay” to serve as a sample blog post for weeks. Pining after the job more than I pined after Adam Lockler, my preppy school’s one brooding hipster. And then quietly mourning its loss to an “edgier” contender, just like I mourned the loss of Adam when he started seriously dating our school’s resident beat poet, Sylvia (“like Plath”), whom he also conveniently anointed his successor as editor in chief of the Castalia Chronicle. (“EICs have to be fearless, Harper. You’ll be much happier doing copyediting. You’re really good with punctuation. And don’t get me started on your fact checking!”)
If I get one more rejection, I’m going to . . . Wait.
“Wait,” I say, regaining the ability to speak. “Didn’t I not get this internship already?”
I definitely didn’t get this internship already. In fact, I think McKayla was the one who sent me the “I hate to inform you,” “very strong applicant pool,” “but I loved the sample blog post you included in the application,” “Keep writing!” form rejection e-mail months ago.
“Yeah,” says McKayla. “About that . . . Well, as you know, we had a very strong applicant pool—”
“I think I remember that from the e-mail.”
“But we liked your application essay—”
“I remember that, too.”
“Okay, I’m going to level with you here. No, you weren’t my first choice for dating blogger.”
Wait, dating blogger? That wasn’t listed on the application. I checked the box to intern for the Arts & Culture section. I had wanted to write about books and movies, spend my summer seeing Broadway musicals. I’m suddenly aware of how sticky my toes feel.
McKayla barrels on. “But our first choice had a little bit too much fun—how shall I put this—getting firsthand dating material this year and just informed me that she can’t do the internship because it now conflicts with her due date, which would have been nice to know one trimester ago.” McKayla pauses. “You aren’t planning on going into labor before August, are you?”
I mean, not unless Immaculate Conception is making a comeback.
“Fantastic. Just get yourself to Manhattan by this Monday morning and it’s yours.”
“Wait, this Monday as in three days from now?”
“Is there another ‘this Monday’ that I’m not aware of?”
I can hear her drumming her fingernails. Before I can respond, she says, “Look, Harper, I get that things are moving fast, but that’s journalism. It’s after one in the morning here and I’m still putting out fires at the office because this is Shift. This place makes careers. An internship here, and colleges will be lining up to accept you.”
Her sales pitch has the advantage of being totally true. I’ve read about what past interns have done after a summer at Shift. And I could use colleges lining up. When I didn’t get editor in chief, the Castalia High college counselor told me that getting into Columbia with an application all about how I want to be a journalist was going to be challenging. (“Got any other talents?” Mr. Buchanan asked. “Can you code? Universities love girl computer coders!”)
McKayla sighs. “I’d love to have you on board, but if you’re even thinking of saying no, tell me now. I have a list of other rejects who would be on a red-eye to the city ten minutes ago.”
I don’t have to think about it.
“Yes, meaning . . .”
“Yes, I’m in. I’m a hundred percent in! I was just surprised because—”
McKayla cuts me off. “Great. Check your e-mail for details. Welcome to Shift.”
She hangs up before I can say thank you.
What. Just. Happened?
I have to tell someone.
I have to tell Kristina, who’s currently making out with a University of Michigan–bound water polo player in the middle of the pulsating Dance Floor Make-Out throng. She locked in on his chlorine-blue eyes within ten minutes of getting here.
But Kristina won’t mind being pulled away. My blond-haired bestie, whose personal mantra has been “carpe that effing diem”—which roughly translates to “seize that freaking day”—ever since she saw it cross-stitched on a pillow on Etsy last year, is never lacking in the make-out-partner department. A varsity swimmer who’s so good, she’s already getting recruited by Stanford, she’s fluent in hot jock. Boys practically throw themselves at her. I’m the one who—
Just as Sharpie Face guy’s head comes crashing down on my shoulder, my reality comes crashing in as well.
I’m now the Shift summer dating blogger.
Which would be awesome save for the teeny, tiny, infinitesimal detail that I know absolutely nothing about dating. I’m not a leper, just easily flustered. I’m the girl who has crushes on hipster editors in chief from afar. The girl who observes rather than jumps to action. And the one time I took Kristina’s advice to go out of my comfort zone and actually get set up on a date, well, that ended in disaster.
Not that McKayla would know that I’m completely unqualified, given the “edgy” sample blog post I submitted. Shift asked intern applicants to write an “eye-catching personal essay” with a headline that “people in the Twitterverse can’t help clicking on.” Something “scintillating.” But when I paged through my black Moleskine notebook for ideas, it became clear that my life had nothing scintillating about it. But my notebook isn’t just for writing about myself. I love jotting down weird observations, funny things people say, and other people’s stories for future writing inspiration. And I was inspired. Kristina does always tell me that I’m way better at recounting her hookup horror stories than she is.
I know I should never have pretended Kristina’s scintillating life was my own—I should never have written about that story of hers for my application blog post—but in an act of writer’s-block-fueled desperation, I did.
How’s that for being a killer fact-checker, Adam Lockler?
And now, because I was an idiot, because I wrote about something I know nothing about (and debatably betrayed my best friend, who can never find out), I’m going to have to turn into some sort of dating guru. In three days.
I’m so metaphorically screwed.
Before I have the chance to descend into a full-blown freak-out, Bobby McKittrick walks over to see what’s going on with Sharpie Face, who’s slumped on the bench next to me. This interrupts my spiral into total anxiety.
“Lookin’ good, Harper,” he slurs, giving me a once-over after he checks his comatose friend for a pulse.
While Bobby isn’t exactly a Nordic god masquerading as a graduating senior like Kristina’s Dance Floor Make-Out partner, he’s kind of cute. He’s also famous for getting super drunk and making out with a different girl (or two or three) at every party he throws. Kristina and I always laugh about it during our end-of-night debrief. But tonight, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be one of those girls. Maybe it will be easy. To throw myself into the lion’s den and get a preview of what may be in store.
I’m going to have to learn on the job.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book was great and loved everything in it
This is the perfect, fun summer read! Harper Anderson snags a summer internship with SHIFT magazine in New York City. So she packs up her laid-back California life, says goodbye to her best friend Kristina, and heads off into the cut-throat world of magazine journalism as SHIFT's new dating blogger. Problem: she's never really dated. Never truly hooked up. Pretty much knows nothing about romantic relationships. But her witty, snarky submission on an anecdote from Kristina's life makes it seem otherwise. When she gets into the SHIFT office and has to try to fit in with the other, super-competitive SHIFT interns, she has to "fake it till she makes it." But how much of herself and the truly worthwhile things in her life will she lose in the process? Stampler offers a light, fast-paced read that should go into everyone's beach/pool bag.
A little white lie never hurt anyone, right? Or even three...or ten...or you lose count if you're Harper Anderson. This book promises quite a bit. It's meant to be like The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City, Gossip Girl; I've seen it compared to quite a few other books and movies that simply have a common theme of New York and magazines in it. Well, I've never seen Sex and the City or Gossip Girl, but it definitely delivers its promise of The Devil Wears Prada and more! (Pug prom? Who knew!) Harper was a pretty interesting main character. She's awkward and bumbling in person but snarky and well-written in print (or should we say screen), even if she doesn't realize how snarky she is herself. I enjoyed going on Harper's adventure to New York with her and was excited to see where her dating blog would take her; and wow did it take her places! While there were plenty of times I wanted to shake Harper and tell her to stop, there were plenty of times I was cheering her on through her and her friend's escapades. Harper definitely surprised me throughout the book and I loved reading as she found herself. I love the way this book is written with Harper's blog posts thrown in. It adds so much fun and authenticity to the book to read what Harper chose to post on her blog. The plot never lulled for me but I do have to say that the plot is very predictable. As soon as Harper arrived in New York, I could pretty much tell you exactly what was going to happen as the book went on and new characters are introduced. The book also heavily features pop culture in virtually every aspect of it from the way the characters speak to different Internet sites and social media to emojis and more, which will definitely appeal to the younger audience. Regardless of its predictability, I thoroughly enjoyed taking the ride with Harper through her ups and downs of her internship and her magical summer in New York City. I had never felt an interest in visiting New York, but after this book I have to say the hunger has been planted in me to walk those streets one day. I also would like to order an Aunt Vee for myself. Likes: The setting. Harper's blog posts. The Shift girls were fun. Dislikes: Harper's actions sometimes made me want to shake her. Very predictable. Minor but I personally could've done without as much pop culture. It adds a lot to a book in a current year but in 10 years time, this book will definitely appear dated. Overall: Recommend? Yes! *I received this e-book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Favorite Quotes: I won't make any friends on your level. I'm just going to make a big bowl of cantaloupe friends... Everyone knows that cantaloupe is the ultimate filler fruit of the fruit salad. No one asks for it, it's just there. No one really craves hanging out with cantaloupe friends. It's how you make do so you don't, you know, socially starve to death. Aunt Vee has the pained look of a woman on the second day of a juice cleanse. I just start crying. And not cute crying. Ugly crying. The kind where your face gets red and your breathing gets all gasp-y and you realize you're precariously close to becoming a snot monster. I'm not used to crying. At all. I go to an all boys' school and the only emotion my parents show is disapproval, so I went with my first instinct. That wasn't creepy, right? I know I need to up my flirting game from asking cute guys what time it is and running away. Fear of rejection sends me into fight-or-flight mode, and I don't know how to stop myself from always picking flight. You don't wait for an invitation to apologize. You just do it. As loudly as possible. My Review: I can no longer state, "I don't YA." I must revise one of my pat statements to, "I rarely YA." I was blissfully unaware when signing up to review Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies, that the book fell into the YA genre... oops. As I was committed to review it, I chastised myself to pay more attention, sighed heavily and then began to read one of the most delightfully humorous, clever, and insightful books I've read in ages. It was wicked funny, cleverly plotted, and smartly written. I read YA! I am stunned, and humbled, extremely pleased... but, mostly stunned... about all the above. Moreover, when I noticed that this skillfully completed tale seems to be the author's first book, my eyes telescoped from my skull like Roger Rabbit's. But, oh, to be young and stupid again. Or young and naive. Or young, toned, and able to wear stilettos once more. But mainly, I'll just like to be young and viewing the world as a shiny and exciting place. I'm old and jaded now, but I vaguely and ever so fondly recall those bright and airy feelings of eagerness and enthusiasm. I could see my younger self in seventeen-year-old Harper, a small town girl with big aspirations. Harper was accepted for a summer internship with an iconic Manhattan media group, her dream job. But, she was assigned to cover a beat she had no experience with - dating. Harper was a klutzy wallflower, she was smart and cute, but socially and physically awkward. She hasn't dated. At all. So she embellished. Fake it to make it. I said she was smart - she embellished well. Her ambition and desire to fit in with her cool and chic co-workers led to a physical and social makeover, although this was not all to her betterment and ended up costing her dearly. Life lessons are painful and hard, that aspect of youth I certainly do not miss, even for less cellulite.
This is a great book written by Laura Stampler. Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days. There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. If you are looking for a great book, then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Well this is sort of like Devil Wears Prada in the fact that it takes place at a magazine, it involves an intern and it's in New York City. Who says there's no truth in advertising? Actually I found this book to be quite entertaining. It's got all the ingredients you need for a great story. Heroine, hero, d-bag, villain, Beatches, petty criminal, best friend back home and lots of cocktail parties. In here, the interns become friends and help each other. The boss is tough, but not the Devil. I had a very good time reading this book - although SO different from the one above. I'd recommend it. Thanks Simon and Schuster and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't usually read much YA but I couldn't put Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies down. As a former teen and someone who works on the internet, lives in NYC and has dated here, I can say that Laura Stampler accurately portrayed Harper's life as a summer intern. (Yes, life and dating here really ARE that weird.) That accuracy made the book all the more enjoyable! Will we get a second book to see what Harper is up to the summer after she graduates HS? I hope so!
Absolutely incredible! While targeted towards YA this book easily surpasses the YA genre and is a captivating read for adults and YA audiences alike. Harper is a heroine and girl can relate to and root for. Make sure to block out some time because you won't be able to put it down once you pick it up!
This is one of the best YA books I've read in a long time. The characters are so well developed and you really become invested in their stories. Plus, it's hilarious! Once you start reading it you won't want to put it down.