From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Johnson certainly seems to have the formula for good, clean, readable chick-lit down pat, and this title does not disappoint. According to tradition, when the Martin children turn 15, they inherit a suite in the family's small Manhattan hotel and a job: to take care of the rooms and their occupant. On Scarlett's 15th birthday, Amy Amberson sweeps into the suite that Scarlett has just inherited. The woman is demanding and brash, but she does have her charms (and large amounts of cash). In the beginning, Scarlett is overwhelmed, but then her role becomes that of Mrs. Amberson's assistant for her projects, which change on a whim. When Amy decides to help the theater troupe that Scarlett's brother is involved in put on Hamlet, the teen begins a romance with one of the actors. Then everything starts to go awry, and when things get tough, Amy abandons ship, and plucky Scarlett is left to step in and save what needs saving, something that she does with flair. Scarlett's brand of humor is particularly dry and well articulated. This novel blends sibling rivalry and the importance of family, friendship, and romance into a plot that is charming and well delivered.—Emily Garrett Cassady, North Garland High School, Garland, TX
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*Starred Review* The Hopewell Hotel, 75 years ago a stylish Upper East Side haunt, has fallen on hard times. Its proprietors, the Martin family, have let the last remaining employee go, and now it’s up to the four children, Spencer, Lola, Scarlett, and Marlene, to keep things afloat. Enter one Mrs. Amy Amberson, a flamboyant, mysterious guest, back in New York after a long absence, with some clandestine motives. Mrs. Amberson is to occupy the Empire Suite, just today entrusted to Scarlett as a “present” on her fifteenth birthday (a family tradition), for the entire summer, and keeping her happy will test Scarlett’s ingenious mettle. What follows is some utterly winning, madcap Manhattan farce, crafted with a winking, urbane narrative and tight, wry dialogue. Beneath the silvered surface, Johnson delivers a complex sibling relationship. Like the Hilary McKay’s Casson quartet, first introduced in Saffy’s Angel (2002), these siblings are bound by tender, poignant connections, all the more real for the absurdity of their circumstances. We can only hope that they, too, return for more intrepid adventures. Grades 7-12. --Thom Barthelmess
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