“Suite Scarlett” by Maureen Johnson

15 Jan


Hooray for advance reading copies! "Suite Scarlett," Maureen Johnson's ("13 Little Blue Envelopes") latest book, doesn't officially come out until May 1st. I was incredibly lucky to snag an advance reading copy, which is basically an uncorrected version of the book in paperback format, typically given out for promotional or review purposes.

I cannot overstate how much I love all of Maureen's books. In an age of mindless chick lit for girls, Maureen writes novels where the heroines are smart, spunky, and with fierce independent streaks. But the books are also pretty breezy and light as well, and you can generally count on a big old dollop of romance mixed in, too. What more can you ask for? 😀

"Suite Scarlett" lives up to everything I've come to expect from a Maureen Johnson novel. Here's the basic setup: Scarlett Martin is the 15 year-old daughter of a hotel-owning family. Before you get any grand illusions of the Four Seasons, you should know that the Hopewell Hotel is a shabby, art deco hotel in Manhattan that has no staff, no guests, a creaky elevator, clogged toilets, and a barely functioning kitchen. It's summer time, and all of Scarlett's friends are off on adventures while she's stuck working at the Hopewell. Scarlett's parents barely make more than cameo appearances in the book, so the focus is mainly on Scarlett; her older brother, Spencer, who is a budding actor and physical comedian; her older sister, Lola, who dates a rich, dumb guy and works the makeup counter at Bendel's; and her younger sister, cancer survivor and all-around brat Marlene.

Scarlett has resigned herself to a hot, dreary summer when a very wealthy, eccentric guest, Mrs. Amberson, arrives for a lengthy stay at the Hopewell. Mrs. Amberson soon makes Scarlett her assistant, which primarily involves procuring odd teas and running strange errands, all in the name of Mrs. Amberson's unwritten book. At this point, I was so worried "Suite Scarlett" would veer off into "The Devil Wears Prada" territory, with an overbearing, demeaning boss ordering around a young woman. Not to worry. Mrs. Amberson, although a bit childish at times, definitely has Scarlett's best interests in mind.

While all this is going on, Spencer is facing his parents' one-year deadline to find a paying acting job, lest he be forced to enroll in culinary school. Spencer is a natural actor, so when he lands the part of Rosencrantz in a production of "Hamlet," Scarlett is thrilled. Ok, it's "Hamlet" to be staged in a parking garage, and Spencer will be riding a unicycle, but it's a real acting job, right? Even better from Scarlett's perspective, Eric, a handsome, seemingly sweet guy from North Carolina, has been cast as Gildenstern, Spencer's partner in comic relief. Eric will be spending lots of time with Spencer, running lines and practicing physical tricks and stunts, which is just fine by Scarlett. She likes the way Eric treats her as if she's someone special and magical.

That's probably enough of a plot outline. What follows is a sort of madcap, almost screwball comedy involving the staging of the play, the larger-than-life Mrs. Amberson, a misguided scheme to exact revenge upon one of Mrs. Amberson's old rivals, a budding romance between Eric and Scarlett, and some family angst. Yes, that's a lot to take in, but it also makes for great reading, since there's plenty of light comedy and a nice dash of sarcasm along the way. I also loved the interactions between Scarlett and her older siblings, Spencer and Lola. It's so rare to find siblings who are true friends in a young adult novel, particularly when that depiction never enters saccharine or artificial territory. Maureen has created a believable family where the brothers and sisters get on each other's nerves, argue, and yet still help and support each other. They actually like each other. Go figure.

I read this book in basically one sitting (is "devoured" too strong a word, I wonder?), which I believe is the way lots of you will read it as well. I think you'll love Scarlett's smart, resourceful character, and you'll find yourself eagerly cheering on Spencer's cockeyed production of "Hamlet." While this book has some flaws (younger sister Marlene seems like no more than a hollow plot device, and a few elements — the eccentric actor, absent parents, and romance that ends on an unsettled note — are recycled from previous novels), these are minor complaints when compared to the sheer enjoyment of reading "Suite Scarlett." I can't wait to recommend this to my young female readers, in say grades six and up. This one's a keeper!


Posted by on January 15, 2008 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 responses to ““Suite Scarlett” by Maureen Johnson

  1. mewalker1999

    January 22, 2008 at 2:40 am

    ooh, what a great recommendation. thanks for the early glimpse!

    • mel1317

      January 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

      Oh, that’s rad … thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my review!

  2. slayground

    January 23, 2008 at 4:16 am

    • mel1317

      January 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m always giddily happy to know that someone has even read my blog. To be quoted invokes a whole other level of goofiness in me.

      • slayground

        January 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm

        I was honored as well and am glad to share the giddiness.

  3. Anonymous

    January 8, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Save on Soccer Uniform Very best Price Assured, adidas F50 adiZero football baseball shoes inner ban

    The game of soccer is a highly stressful sport which requires [url=]Adidas F50 adiZero[/url] players to move constantly, run all over the field along with kick up on the playing the surface of grass. Thus due to its special needing, some sort of shoes referred to as soccer cleats has been created for baseball [url=]Football Boots[/url] players whenever playing soccer on foundation various skill sets, field kinds and conditions. The football cleats are usually most targeted at [url=]Nike ACC FG Cleats[/url] young clients because most football players start young. First know it quickly, and then learn how to pick best soccer cleats for [url=]Search results for ‘adidas'[/url] youngsters.

    Youth football cleats are made of material of leather in addition to synthetic attaching to advantages and disadvantages [url=]Didier Drogba Cleats[/url] which makes it tough to name one superior to the other. On one hand leather shoes are higher priced since they [url=]White Volt Electricity-Nike CTR360 Libretto III TF Astro Turf[/url] provide better sense and also fit better. Smoother the buckskin is [url=]F50 adizero TRX FG Leather[/url] greater the feel can be while showing up in ball. Nonetheless, its weak points are in which soft buckskin [url=]Nike ACC FG Cleats[/url] tend to be less durable and cannot always be worn while playing inside wet climate conditions or with a wet field.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: