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Hot Mess: Summer in the City Paperback – May 13, 2008
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A great gift for country music fans, The Anthology Part 1 includes CDs containing the music of Garth's first five years, and behind-the-scenes photographs and stories never before made public. Learn more
About the Author
Julie Kraut lives in New York City, where she shimmies her sensible pumps up the corporate ladder, eats pizza, and writes. This is her first book for young readers.
Shallon Lester moved across the country to write and add to her shoe collection. This is her first book for young readers. She lives in Manhattan.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Rachel, Kyle, and I rocked up to El Shack del Tacos straight from seventh period. My boyfriend, Brian, and his posse had been there for hours. This was their last day of high school ever, and they’d commemorated it by ditching, which didn’t make sense to me. Because then yesterday was their last day. Whatever, I always tried to be fun, cool girlfriend and not logical, naggy girlfriend, so I didn’t mention it.
Brian’s posse was really tight. They were all a year older than Rachel, Kyle, and me, and always reminding us of t. They call themselves “The Hombres.” I know–eye-roll central.
I was sitting next to Bri, who was dressed in the typical hombre uniform: khakis and a lame slogan tee. Today’s read I Like Girls Who Like Girls.” What can I say? That’s my boy! Captain Classy. We’d been together for nine months officially and, I guess unofficially, ten and a half, and I couldn’t believe he was leaving at the end of the summer. Sure, he’d only be two hours away in Albany, but I knew things were going to be different between us. The official plan was to stay together. My plan was to savor this summer and hope for the best when he packed up and headed off to college in the fall.
Luckily, we were both going to be lifeguarding at the swim club this summer, so we’d be able to hang out between adult swim and kids crapping the pool. My parents were really pushing this “summer internship in New York” idea for a while. One of Mom’s “Golf Gals!”–that’s what they call themselves. Yes, with the exclamation point. And no, not to be funny, either–said that she could set me up with some kind of internship at a branch of her company in New York. And I have to admit, a summer of pink drinks and high heels in Manhattan would have been pretty awesome, but I decided to stick with my chlorine-and-flip-flops summer here in Bridgefield. New York was always going to be New York, and I could go there another summer. But who knew with Brian? I kind of wanted to carpe diem while the diem was good with him. Pathetic or romantic? I couldn’t decide.
I looked over at Rachel, who was all up on Warren, her apparent crush of the moment, sitting on his lap and feeding him taquitos. And poor Mister Sister Kyle, as always, was just kind of lingering around the periphery of The Hombre bunch, twisting his kabbalah bracelet uncomfortably. I knew he didn’t like Brian or The Hombres–they didn’t exactly follow Perez Hilton the way he did–but he sometimes pretended to for my sake. Not today, though. I heard him sigh loudly and then mumble something to Rachel about asphyxiating on all the testosterone. She looked at me and twirled her finger around in the air. I nodded back and reached for my bag. The finger twirl was our code that it was time to leave. Rachel’s uncle taught it to her. It was some military sign that meant start up the choppers . . . or missiles are coming or something. Whatever–it worked. Surprisingly, Bri took a last gulp from his soda and announced that he was going to leave with us.
“Rach, you think you’re gonna have enough room for me?” Brian asked between belches. “I ate an extra taco. I’m feeling a little bigger than usual.”
We all laughed at the thought of Rachel’s battleshipsized car. The girl drove a bona fide mom-mobile station wagon, complete with a “Bridgefield Elementary Super Speller” bumper sticker. The thing was so huge, it pretty much had its own zip code. I was jealous that she had a car at all, but it wasn’t exactly the Nissan Z she was hoping for on her Sweet Sixteen.
Kyle hopped in front with Rachel and I scooted next to my still-belching bf in the back. As she turned the key to start up the bus, “Ring of Fire” blared from her speakers and we sped off, going at least twenty miles above the speed limit, as usual. Rachel tried to compensate for the fact that she drove a covered wagon by going 120 miles per hour on Ridgeline Drive.
“Lady, it’s two-forty-five p.m., not a.m. We’re not late for curfew or anything. Slow down before we turn into a driver’s ed cautionary tale.”
“Fine, Emma,” Rachel snapped at me, and rolled her eyes, slowing down by about four miles per hour. I still felt like I was on the Bezerker.
“Honey, will you do something about this music, puhleeze.”
Even Kyle’s whines were sassy. “I need to be celebrating the last day of junior year. This shit would make my Latin oral exam sound like music. I need to work this out, bitch!” He did his signature body wave. It totally didn’t go with the Johnny Cash blasting out of the speakers.
Rachel slapped his hand as he reached down to find another song on her playlist. “Don’t you dare, Ky. Johnny Cash stays on. I’m doing research.”
“On what, Professor Wolfe? How long it takes before country music will make a brother’s ears bleed?” Unless Kyle was talking to one of his siblings, he surely was not a brother. Yes, he was darker than Rachel and I were, but that had more to do with self-tanner than minority status. And
Lancôme Flash Bronzer does not a black man make.
“According to Danny’s MySpace page, Johnny Cash is now his favorite artist,” she said matter-of-factly. “By the time we’re on the bus up to camp together, I’ll be a total expert.” She turned up “Folsom Prison Blues” and pretended to sing along, but I’m pretty sure “Get this party started” isn’t part of the lyrics.
She was what some would fondly call “boy crazy” and others would not-so-fondly call “stone cold psycho.” Either way, Rachel Wolfe was a seventeen-year-old on a mission to find a boyfriend. And “tall, dark, and handsome” were not on the checklist for her ideal mate. “Funny, intelligent, and rich” were missing, too. But “bar mitzvahed, circumcised, and from a nice family?” Check, check, and check!
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That's where Hot Mess: Summer in the City's appeal is. It really is a fantasy, a fun romp for a high school girl, and for those teenagers stuck at home who want to live vicariously through Emma. She gets herself into all kinds of PG-13 rated trouble and even has a fling with a hot New York City man. Her job is another story, though. It is incredibly dull and boring, and her boss seems to be from another planet entirely. Emma's daily encounters with "The Dorf" are enjoyably written and funny.
I have to say that this book is probably much better for teens, rather than adults who occasionally read the YA genre. There are simply too many pop culture references for the average adult to understand. While current pop culture references are a great thing for teens - it keeps the book trendy and hip - older readers might find themselves confused, or simply frustrated, with the abundant pop culture references that they likely don't understand. It's definitely a fun book that made me me smile and chuckle multiple times, but in the end, it is probably better suited to teens who dream of going off to the big city and living fabulous lives.
3 and a half stars rounded up to 4
Emma heads out to New York and immediately hooks up with a socialite (what luck). So, the three girls decide to bunk together and live the "real" life of New York.
Except that not of it is quite as fun or glamorous as Emma expected it to be. On top of all that, she has met a cute guy....
This story is charming and funny. I instantly liked Emma and could identify with her dreams of wanting to do more with her life. Of course, this novel being mainly set in New York, we also get to meet some less than likeable characters, but this added to the book for me.
Some of the situations the girls got themselves into or "happened" to fall into were a little bit over the top at times, but it somehow worked with the overall tone of the book.
The message of the book comes out loud and clear - the grass is not always greener on the other side!
This is a good read for any YA and I would recommend it.
So, where is a girl to go when she wants to get away from it all? How about New York City?
Emma lands a summer internship in the city and even talks her BFF, Rachel, into coming along. The girls head to New York with a moderate budget and big plans for a glamorous summer in the city. The reality of living in the city soon hits them. What seemed like a sizeable budget in the suburbs doesn't measure up to the cost of living in NYC. And the kind of housing you can rent for the price Emma and Rachel have to pay usually has some very creepy terms in the deal.
Just when they are about to give up, Emma and Rachel answer an ad and find themselves rooming with a real life socialite. Jayla is beautiful, rich, and lives an exciting life full of nightclubs and late-night make-out sessions with the hottest guys in town.
Although the housing situation is looking brighter, the internship turns out to be almost unbearable. Emma's boss is a nightmarish mix of 90's rap revival, bad jokes, and an overblown self-image. Then there is that one cute guy that works for the company, and the one lie that Emma told him. Will she be able to keep the lie going all summer long?
HOT MESS: SUMMER IN THE CITY is a really fun read that is full of current references to popular culture and believable dialogue. This is a must-have for your summer reading list!
Reviewed by: JodiG.