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Plastic Angel Hardcover – June 1, 2005
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Gr. 7-10. Thirteen-year-old best friends Angela "Gellie" Riddle and Randi Rankin feel stifled by their wealthy Massachusetts suburb and their private school's exclusive cliques. Gellie is further fettered by her mother's dreams to make her a supermodel and actress, while Randi struggles with her parents' constant fighting and her desire to be part of the popular crowd. Randi's background is solidly counterculture, and Gellie's parents are quite conservative, but together the girls find solace in music, forming an acoustic duo. Both have significant songwriting skills, and they discover a natural talent for harmonizing. Unfortunately, Mrs. Riddle sees Gellie's music as a distraction to her "real" career and orders her to stop playing. The considerable charm of this title lies in the characters: Randi's wry narrative playfully mocks everyone, including herself. The pull between acceptance and self-expression will resonate strongly with young teens, as will the fear and attraction cliques instill. Nields incorporates the girls' song lyrics to excellent effect, and the final book promises a free CD (not available at time of review), which should increase interest. Debbie Carton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
It’s the summer between eighth and ninth grade, and Randi’s summer mission is to start a rock band with her friend Gellie. Music would be a connection with Randi’s too-often-absent musician father as well as a possible route to popularity, but it’s also unfortunately a distraction from Gellie’s budding career as a model and actress, which Gellie’s mother considers paramount. Randi becomes increasingly invested in the band, Plastic Angel, and its possibilities, despite the fact that Gellie’s mother forbids her daughter’s participation and Randi’s own parents’ marital tension has erupted into separation. Nields is herself a musician, but that doesn’t result in any particularly compelling insider insights into the process; this is a fairly standard tale of young people whose suddenly emerging abilities would take them far if only their personal dramas would permit it. Randi herself has little character beyond her desire for approval and Gellie’s complicity, and the book tends to reduce people and situations to extremes for contrast. That’s not out of keeping with a middle-school viewpoint, though, so readers may cheerfully share Randi’s sweeping judgments; many will also share her yearning for musical self-expression, and they’ll get vicarious enjoyment from the young artist’s progress toward her dream. DS
Top customer reviews
I had not heard the album when I read it, but have since bought it. It is a really cool idea to accompany a book about singer/songwriters with a CD of their songs. It brings a new dimension to both the book and the album.
In a nutshell, two girls, Randi and Gellie are experiencing the summer between eight and ninth grade, and yes, most of us wo have experienced it do remember it. Gellie is an aspiring model, due to her mother's overzealous encouragement while Randi is beginning to experiment in her father's profession, songwirting. Randi's new job at a music store in the next town over sparks her intrest even more by inroducing her to an inpiring band, The Big Idea. Soon Randi has Gellie interested in starting a band with her and Gellie has to choose between modeling and singing with Randi.
But there are some flaws. Throughout the story, I found myself asking why a topic had been introduced. For instace, Randi goes to a party and gets involved with a boy, but he never comes back into the story. There were quite a few elements that never came together for me. The second flaw came at the end. I was given a copy of the CD "This Town is Wrong" about a year before the book came out and listened to it obsessively for about a week after which it stayed one of my favorite CDs for regular listening. But as the book wound down, the characters began to spew bits of the lyrics from the songs. While this made the songs even more meaningful, it really seemed forced, like it didn't fit in quite right.
But other than that, I thought this book was brilliant. As someone who is not so long out of ninth grade, I could really relate to how Randi and Gellie felt about the choices they had to make, because at that point in your life, choices begin to matter. This book is really great for young adults and grown ups would enjoy it too. So all I have to say now is have at it. To be hypocritical, "I am giving you the world."
Angela (Gellie) Riddle and Randi Rankins are two BFFs that practically do everything together. It's amazing how they can bond so well because Gellie is a model, while Randi is just your ordinary everyday-girl who loves to play the guitar, like her dad, who is a singer. But the two discover that they both love making songs and music on the guitar, so they form a band. But Gellie's mom wants Gellie to have nothing else but her modeling career in her head. Soon, Gellie realizes that being a model was actually her mother's dream and not her's. And it isn't long until the band gets noticed.
This book is overall a collection of factors that make up the life of a teen - finding and chasing your dreams, having crushes, rapid changes, having your friendships challenged, and most of all, discovering who you really are. Just read the book, and you'll see what I mean!!! Enjoy!
One is interested in music, the other is a model. The book follows the two friends as they develop from girlhood to being teenagers, and explores the impact your choices and the choices of others can make on your life.
I enjoyed this book because it featured teenagers that did not spend their entire lives obsessing over that Hot Guy, hanging at the mall or battling their way through popularity wars. Plastic Angel focuses more on the realistic and important challenges of finding and accepting your identity, and how to find yourself when your life is being run by someone else. Plastic Angel is more upbeat and focuses on the goals of the girls not so much on the negative schemes of wanting to be popular and accepted.
Plastic Angel deals with real, but defiantly not average teenage girls. I would recommend this book for more "girly" teenage girls and adults that can enjoy a fluffy teen novel.
Each girl is a compelling, complex character, trying to figure out what she wants and how hard to push to get it, and I loved them both. Their dialogue is always just right, and the girls have the same worries and problems that many teenagers do -- but that many young-adult books gloss over. This isn't a book about girls in relentless pursuit of the right boys; it's about girls with crushes and girls who want to be kissed, but girls who know they're happiest when they're singing.
And the scenes when the girls are singing, writing songs, or practicing guitar are what separate this book from any other young-adult book I've read. Every element of the learning curve of writing songs and playing the guitar is spot-on, given that Nerissa Nields is a singer-songwriter herself. The details about sore fingers and lyrics that still need tweaking are just right. The book is filled with references to the music world and to Nields's own music, which will delight readers who are also Nields fans (see how many Nields songs you can spot!).
Don't be distracted by the cover -- this book is not chick lit, and Randi and Gellie demand to be taken seriously.