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James, "Pride and Popularity" (reviewed by Karen Hamilton) Options · View
Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011 9:01:08 PM

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Title: Pride and Popularity
Author: Jenni James
Publisher: Inkberry Press
Contact info: Inkberry Press, LLC
110 South 800 West
Brigham City, Utah 84302
Genre: Teen Fiction
Year Published: 2011
Number of Pages: 225
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-0-9838293-0-0
Price: $11.99

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

As a fan of Jane Austen's stories I was thrilled to see an author take the challenge of writing a modernized version of "Pride and Prejudice." I was hopeful that the story would survive the process and still be worthy of a Jane Austen stamp of approval. I am happy to say that "Pride and Popularity" exceeded my hopes and laid all my fears to rest. Jenni James has the talent of a true storyteller! She has woven the essentials of the classic story into the modern teen world of high school.

There is a big difference in the personality dynamics between Darcy and Elizabeth and the couple in this book. Chloe's independent and strong, but she's not really a dead ringer for Lizzie in any other way. And Taylor's a total charmer, whereas no one could accuse Mr. Darcy of being overly friendly. Although everyone in Jane Austen's book respected and admired Mr. Darcy, very few of them liked him because he was so austere and distant. Taylor is a man of the people who is loved by everyone who meets him.

Chloe has been burned by the popular crowd at her old school and at age 15 is determined it won't happen again when she relocates with her family to Farmington, New Mexico. The only problem is that there happens to be an uber popular, stunningly cute and charming boy there. She is the only girl in Farmington who can and wants to resist the charms of Taylor Anderson. Chloe starts to fall hard for him when she moved to town at age 15, but she shut her feelings down after a humiliation at a basketball game where Taylor singles her out and welcomes her to his fan club, while his girlfriend is watching.

But mark Chloe's words to her two best friends...Taylor Anderson will NOT win her over. Forget the fact that Taylor has beautiful blue eyes, serves others, and is ever persistent in his attention. (Girls and moms alike will swoon at the fact that Taylor's middle name is Darcy.)

Now a Senior, she feels completely immune to everyone's favorite athlete. Chloe would much prefer working on her art and her dance classes, or hanging out with her girlfriends and four-wheel riding with her buddy Ethan, to drooling over Taylor and being a part of his fan club at ball games.

After trying to be in the same class their entire high school career, Chloe and her friends (Maddie and Alyssa) finally have art together. They even get to sit at the same table together. There is only one downside to this whole arrangement; Taylor Andersen is also in class with them. During art class Chloe starts to see a different side of the stuck-up boy she thought she knew.

I love Chloe's friends and how supportive they are all of each other. It is such a delight and a relief to see a group of loving friends genuinely happy over each other's joys and accomplishments--it's a rare thing in young adult fiction. Chloe, Maddie and Alyssa enjoy the little and big things in each other’s life. Their friendship is fierce and helps to pull each other from sadness and out of depression. It has helped them survive the rigors and stresses of being a teen.

The romance in this story is super-cute. It takes a chapter or two, but after a little while I was really loving Chloe's interaction with Taylor, and how she really stood her ground and didn't make it too easy for him. Chloe’s at her cleverest around Taylor, too, because she has to use all her wits to keep him at a distance. I just can't get enough of good banter, and Chloe sure provides it. I found myself totally immersed and grinning ear to ear at the end.

"Pride and Popularity" addresses such topics as withholding judgment, the risks of online sites for young teens, and the importance of involved parents. The characters are real, the teen perspective spot on. I highly recommend "Pride and Popularity" to anyone who loves a good evening spent with Jane Austen - books or movies, and anyone who loves to curl up with a delightful, funny romance. This book is a sweet and clean must have for my library and yours.
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