My Rating: 2.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes was a book that left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the plot wasn’t exactly what I expected, and the characters were hard to like. But on the other hand, Paige’s emotions as a teenager felt realistic.
To be honest, I thought The Princesses of Iowa would deal more directly with the consequences of the drunk driving accident that Paige and her friends were involved in. Instead, Paige’s incredibly shallow mother ships her daughter off to Paris in the middle of the night to be an au pair for the summer (so that everyone can forget that Paige was involved in a car accident), and by the time Paige returns, it’s a subject that she and her friends ignore discussing. They’d much rather think about becoming the homecoming queen – a goal they and their mothers have been working towards for a very long time.
Midway through the book, The Princesses of Iowa suddenly begins to deal with gay rights. Although Backes does manage to tie it together into the overall plot, considering that the topic of drunk driving was barely addressed, I thought it was perhaps one issue too much.
Furthermore, none of the characters were overly appealing. Paige herself isn’t exactly nice, makes dumb decisions, and isn’t there for her best friend Lacey when Lacey needs her. She also becomes jealous and suspicious that her boyfriend Jake (who has been friend with Lacey for years) is cheating on her when Lacey starts relying on Jake for a sympathetic ear.
What I really liked though about The Princesses of Iowa was that Backes shows that life is complicated. Things may not always work out the way you want, rumours can spiral out of control, and best friends can grow apart. Those are situations that we all understand and can really relate to.
The Princesses of Iowa will be released by Candlewick Press on May 8, 2012.
Comments About the Cover: It’s nothing special, but it’s clear from the cover that the book is a contemporary.
Note: One particular thing that bothered me extremely was that Paige was almost raped by Jake in The Princesses of Iowa. The book however makes it seem like a trivial event used to further the plot, especially because Paige never mentions the incident and repeatedly insists that Jake is a good guy at heart.
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Candlewick Press) for free via NetGalley.