As part of Leila Sales' Traveling to Teens blog tour, I have an interview with her, a review of her debut novel, Mostly Good Girls, which is now out, and a contest for Mostly Good Girls! Exicted yet? :)
The higher you aim, the farther you fall….Review:
It's Violet's junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she'd be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she's just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush's new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie.
When Katie starts making choices that Violet can't even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge epic failure?
When I first saw this book, I just had a feeling that I would absolutely love it. And as turns out, my prediction was one-hundred percent correct, because Mostly Good Girls was one of the funniest, most smart, and addicting debuts I've read this year- if not ever! And Leila Sales? She's an author who I feel has a very promising YA career in front of her. Though, before I get too far into the review, let me tell you a little about Mostly Good Girls.
Mostly Good Girls begins just as Violet has started her junior year at Westfield, her ritzy, private, all-girls school, and because Violet wants junior year to be the best one yet, she has a list of goals to go right along with it. Some of her goals include passing her driving test, making Scott Walsh fall in love with her (Which will be hard since she has zero experience with boys), and doing many more awesome project with Katie, her best and equally funny friend. Though, as the year progress, it seems that Junior year may not be as amazing as previously thought, as Scott Walsh has landed a girlfriend who's not Violet, Katie is drifting away from Violet, and worst of all, Violet may just loose everything she loves at Westfield when a scandal comes out of the woodwork....so what will this private school girl do? Will she save the day, or fail to rise to the task? Only time will tell in this witty debut about friendship and the items it's composed of!
Violet was a fabulous protagonist, one that I had nothing but love and adoration for because of many different reasons. One was the fact that Violet could be a role model without even doing anything truly spectacular; instead it was just her regular personality traits that made her that way. Secondly, I loved how great of a friend she was to Katie, Scott, and just about everyone she talked to, and how she always tried her best to let nothing come between here and her friends, not boys, money, etc. Lastly, I adored how witty she was. Another character I adored was Katie, Violet's best friend. She was nearly the same as Violet...witty, adorable, role-model worthy, you name it. I also really liked the fact that she, as well as Violet, had normal problems, and how Katie's problems never really felt like I'm-a-poor-little-rich-girl ones, but instead ones regular people like me and you have.
Another part of this book I adored was the way its plot mostly focused on friendship, mainly the one Katie and Violet have. As anyone knows, friendships can be hard but totally worth it in the end and this was quite evident in the one Katie and Violet had. Further more, I loved the way that Leila used Katie and Violet's friendship to bring out not only more humorous scenes, but to also talk about the way that everyone feels lonely and worthless sometimes, but that never should stop you from going towards your fullest potential...a message that I felt was well-incorporated, as well as well-said.
Lastly, Leila Sales writing and world-building was simply spectacular, and this was always quite evident by how easily she made me love the characters from the start to how easily she portrayed their wealthy world in a universal way to the way she could take an ordinary idea and make it anything but that. She's just a fabulous writer, and one I can't wait to read more by!
If you buy one book this October, it should definitely be Mostly Good Girls, because quite honestly it's one of the best contemporary novels I've read in a while!! Though, word of warning, this is one novel that calls to be read in one sitting.
Mostly Good Girls is now out!
Source: Publisher. Thanks Simon and Schuster!
In your opinion, what are the top three reasons why teens, or even adults, should consider picking up Mostly Good Girls the next time they see it in stores or online?
1. Because it’s really funny, and laughing is good for you.
2. Because it centers on a solid, rewarding best friendship, and nearly everyone who reads it tells me that it reminds them of their relationships with their best friends.
3. Because, unlike a lot of romanticized versions of prep schools (like Gossip Girl), it shows how an elite all-girls prep school really is.
Mostly Good Girls is told from the perspective of Violet, so would you mind sharing a little bit about her? Also if you could offer her any type of advice, what would you say?
Violet is clever, smart, and incredibly devoted to her best friend, Katie. But she doesn’t always recognize her own best qualities. She’s so success-oriented that she can’t ever feel like what she has accomplished is good enough. She also has no idea how to talk to boys, but, honestly, who does.
My characters never listen to my advice—they’re too strong-willed! But if I could offer advice to Violet, I would tell her that she can’t have her happiness be so dependent on variables that are outside of her control (like whether she gets a good grade, whether Scott Walsh likes her back, etc).
One of my favorite parts of Mostly Good Girls is Violet and Katie’s friendship. Which leaves me to wonder the following: did you draw inspiration from your own high school friendships when writing about them?
Absolutely! Loads of details about Violet and Katie’s friendship is adapted from—or, okay, straight-out stolen from—my own friends. Like the conversation Violet and Katie have about how “guys like low-maintenance girls”? That was initially an idea that my high school friend Allie and I came up with. Ditto the pool sharks idea. Allie and I have been waiting to become pool sharks ever since we were fifteen. We’re gonna make millions.
I adore the tile of Mostly Good Girls, so how did it come to be? Was it always the title, or did it come later on in the game?
The original title I had for the book was Wayward Girls. But my publisher didn’t love it. They thought “wayward” was too unusual a word, or not evocative enough, or that it evoked, like, the eighteenth century. We brainstormed a lot. I spent one full Saturday sitting on the floor of a bookstore with my agent, trying to glean inspiration. I forget who eventually came up with Mostly Good Girls, but I like it—especially because no other books on Amazon have that same title.
I loved so many different scenes and lines from Mostly Good Girls. Which leaves me to wonder the following: what’s one of your favorite line or scene from the book?
This is a great question. No one ever asks me that! My favorites are always changing, but the scenes that most immediately spring to mind now are the pairing of “Genevieve is anorexic” and “Genevieve is not anorexic.”
If Mostly Good Girls had a theme song what would it be?
I’m not sure… I will say that I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” a lot while I was working on it. Mostly for the line, “I’m sick of sitting ‘round here trying to write this book.”
Name three random things your readers would be surprised to find out about you.
1. I can’t type properly. I use only my index fingers.
2. I can shake my eyes on command.
3. My favorite phrase is “a lingering penumbra.”
Thanks so much, Leila! To find out more about Leila, as well as her books, check out her author page at Simon and Schuster, as well as her website.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster, I have five copies of Mostly Good Girls to giveaway. If you would be interested in owning a copy (Who wouldn't be? This book is AWESOME! ) read the rules below and then enter away.
~ Open to US only.
~ Must be at least 13 years old to enter.
~ This contest will close on November 11, 2010 at 12:00 PM eastern.
~ Please fill out form to enter.