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Being Audrey Hepburn: A Novel Hardcover – September 16, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Lisbeth is a 19-year-old Jersey girl who feels trapped. With a troubled home life, the teen spends her days working at a rundown diner (The Hole) with her best friend, Jess, and her crush, Jake. While Jess and Jake have ambitions that will get them out of The Hole, the only thing Lisbeth knows is that she isn't interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, like her mom plans for her. The protagonist's only real interests are Audrey Hepburn, gossip magazines, and Page Six party photos. While helping Jess at her second job, as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lisbeth gets a chance to try on the original Breakfast at Tiffany's dress made for Hepburn. The dress leads her on a journey that she could have never imagined. While the teen is relatable and likable, despite being incredibly superficial, the other characters are drawn with broad strokes that border on stereotypes. Kriegman treats underage drinking and driving while intoxicated lightly, and ignores the existence of IP addresses and hungry paparazzi. Teens that loved Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girl" series (Little, Brown) will be able to overlook these flaws, and will love to live vicariously through Lisbeth.—Amanda Augsburger, Moline Public Library, IL
“Best of all, Kriegman's women...feel real and full of unexpected dimensions.” ―Santa Barbara Independent
“A fun read sure to cure you of the mean reds.” ―Rare Audrey Hepburn.com
“A fun, girly read [with] depth and intensity...Highly recommend.” ―I'd So Rather Be Reading.com
“It moves along as easily as Fred Astaire on a ballroom floor…If you're looking for a novel that will hold your attention from page one, this is for you, no matter what your age.” ―EverBeautiful.com
“Teens...will love to live vicariously through Lisbeth.” ―School Library Journal
“Ideal for Audrey fans or anyone who wants to escape the mundane.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“First-time novelist Kriegman (creator of Clarissa Explains It All) hits all the right notes for breezy escapist fiction.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This is a fun romp: witty writing, passion and fashion, and oodles of Audrey. A perfect cure for the mean reds.” ―Booklist
“For anyone who believes in the magical powers of the perfect dress, this is the book for you! Kriegman has created a delightful, mystical escape where readers can easily slip into the dress (and matching shoes!) of Manhattan's most elite. With a narrative voice fit for lovers of young adult and new adult fiction, and a fresh fun take on the beloved mistaken identity trope, Being Audrey Hepburn is sure to please a wide range of readers.” ―Julie Cross, international bestselling author of Tempest
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Writing language is contemporary, sometimes salty but necessary to keep to its storyline. I don't agree with the earlier review of suspension of disbelief; the plots and subplots are credible; precedents are mentioned. I had trouble with the names of the characters - "Tabitha" may be an upper crust English name but it conjures an image of a regal cat, not a pop princess and the last "Dahlia" I heard of was a tragic victim, not an evil supervillain.
The author's work in "Clarissa" entertained and raised an entire generation of millennials. Given the depth, originality of his first book, I am surprised it hasn't received more buzz.
In her real life, Lisbeth is a retreater. Her life is chaos, from her delinquent little brother, to her escapist sister, to her mother who is always about to snap. Lisbeth's sanctuary has become her closet, where lives a TV and her Audrey Hepburn movie collection. The only family member that she can relate to is Nan, her grandmother who lives nearby in a senior living facility. Nan was a society girl who married her regular guy grandfather, much to Nan's parents' chagrin.
Lisbeth's best friend, Jess, is going to fashion design school and working part-time at the Met. Knowing that Lisbeth is a (literal) closet Audrey Hepburn fan, she texts Lisbeth so she can come and see the dress. Along the lines of a less-wacky version of an I Love Lucy, Lisbeth can't remove the dress. And Jess' boss has returned. So stepping out into a completely different world, Lisbeth's life is forever changed in an instant because of pretending to be someone else.
Didja Like It?: The bones of this story allowed for so much potential: poor girl stumbles into wealthy world, re-invents herself for the night. However, there is so much going on, that it feels like the stories are not all fully fleshed-out. The most interesting story line involves her Nan. She has saved a lot of couture dresses from when she was a debutante, and Jess is just the person to update them. Lisbeth starts a fashion blog, becomes darling of a fashion icon, and helps her friend Jess in the fashion world. I enjoyed the fashion angle, particularly because the real Audrey Hepburn was a huge fashion icon. (I wrote 'fashion' five times!)
The tortured teen pop icon, poor little rich boy, evil Svengali and the plotting mean girl were over-the-top contrivances. Also, along the way, Lisbeth ignores her family's problems, has to keep her real identity a secret, and just might have chosen the wrong guy. Unfortunately, there's never enough meat on those bones to make us care about any of these people or their problems.
Anything Else to Mention?: I couldn't determine whether Lisbeth wanted to be Audrey Hepburn or Don Rickles. The occasional snarky comments did not jibe well with the idea that this girl worshiped someone known for her loveliness, grace and elegance. The plot was very telegraphed, flat and shallow. It was a "tell, not show" sort of book which I deplore.
To Read or Not To Read: I didn't like it. Let me know if you did in the comments below.
Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman was published September 16, 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, the Publisher and the Author.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 13 and up
You Might Want to Know: Mature themes, including underage drinking, drugs, sex.
The fact that I watched Clarissa before syndication should give you a hint to my age and tell you that I’m not really the target audience for this book. I couldn’t tell you how accurate the messy, abbreviated text messages were or the comments about the current top spot gossip social scene princesses. But for me, that was all just background static to the rest of the story.
The main character, Lisbeth, is about as self-centered as you would expect any 19 year old to be. Oddly enough, this doesn’t keep me from liking her. I was rooting for her through the whole book. I admit, about halfway through the book I started to have trouble putting it down. It was definitely a “one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed” kind of story. Subterfuge, drama, and romance – it’s all there.
My only disappointment was the ending. It seemed very unfinished. The end came abruptly and wrapped itself up even quicker. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end. It felt like a TV series that was told with 2 episodes left that they were not getting picked up for another season, so they shove as much resolution as they can into the last few moments. Maybe Kriegman left that the relationships and the people that carried Lisbeth into the spotlight were no longer part of her story and made a mindful choice to just leave them unfinished and forgotten, but for me it was missed and left me with unanswered questions.
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