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Populazzi Hardcover – August 1, 2011
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"Populazzi is a fresh, fun peek behind the popularity curtain. Elise Allen is a welcome new voice in YA fiction." —Eileen Cook, Author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick
"Populazzi is a smart, fun, and energetic ride through the twisting hallways of high school popularity." —Deb Caletti, author of The Secret Life of Prince Charming
"Hilarious, physiologically chewy, downright Machiavellian, and heartfelt in all the most satisfying ways." —Matthew Quick, author of Sorta Like a Rock Star
"In her first solo novel, Allen (coauthor of Elixir with Hilary Duff) offers a smart mix of hilarity and tragedy in this Macbeth—meets—Mean Girls tale."—Publishers Weekly
"The story unflinchingly depicts the dark and dangerous side of high-school popularity, making it a captivating read."—Kirkus Reviews
"Satisfying chick-lit...This brilliantly titled novel delivers exactly the right escapist fluff while remaining clean and innocent enough to appear on both junior high and high school shelves...and it should." —School Library Journal
About the Author
Elise Allen has written for children's television and film and co-authored Hilary Duff's novel for teens, Elixir.
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She started off getting to know and really like Archer, a theater guy, and he seemed liek a really nice guy. However, when things seemingly went sour with him, Cara decided to move on up the ladder, asking for help from Archer once they were able to patch up some residual issues between them. Her next target was Nate, a DangerZone guy (as the ladder names people like him) whom she changed her whole personality, including her clothing, for in order to seal her hopes of getting him to be her boyfriend. As she continues her move up the ladder, another guy named Eddie comes into play, and he is one of the Penultimates, just a step away from the Supreme Populazzi who is basically the most popular girl on campus - Trista.
Whereas I've read other books where the "Supreme Populazzi" characters seem mean to begin with, Trista didn't come off that way to me. As time went on, though, she became more that way, and when it first happened, it seemed kind of sudden. I guess people don't get to be Supreme Populazzi without being scared of not only their enemies, but their friends. The way she and Cara deal with one another as the story goes on kind of bothered me, but I do think it really is indicative of the way high school hierarchies can be, despite not having dealt with that myself in high school.
The book also dealt with Cara's relationship with her parents, her stepfather, and even her relationship with herself, including how she dealt with sacrifices she made willingly and begrudgingly to cement her social status as the year went on.
I honestly couldn't put this book down, and I found myself thinking about it throughout each day I was reading it and wanting to get back to it. I'm looking forward to seeing if Elise Allen has other books available and checking them out if she does.
Beth Rodgers, Author of 'Freshman Fourteen,' a Young Adult Novel
"Populazzi" takes the reader on a journey with Cara, a high school junior, as she attempts to gain acceptance into her school's highest social group, the Populazzi. Having moved to a new school, Cara is seen by Claudia, her best friend since kindergarten, as having an opportunity to climb the "Ladder" and to increase her social standing. In her zeal to help her friend succeed, Claudia creates a notebook which contains the steps she sees as necessary to move from one rung of the "Ladder" to the next higher level. Cara immediately puts this plan, which is worthy of a five-star general, into action. As she succeeds in moving from one social group to the next, Cara must also come to terms with the sacrifices and moral decisions she makes. In the end, Cara discovers the price she has paid to climb the "Ladder." She recognizes that those who are truly important to her and who really care about her may have been individuals she passed as she moved from rung to rung.
Although set in a private school and having characters from wealthier families, the issues addressed in "Populazzi" are those many young people commonly confront. Elise Allen has done an outstanding job of capturing the trials and tribulations of today's teens' daily lives. In doing so, she has also given readers, both parents and children, numerous avenues for discussion.
I highly recommend that parents read this book and then use it, in a family setting, to discuss topics such as self esteem, individuality, the price of being "popular" and the value of true friendships. Parents of `tweens and more conservative individuals should be aware that the "f-bomb" is used in the characters' conversations, drug use and drinking occupy some scenes, characters "hook up," one character presents himself as straight in order to remain a member of the Poppulazi, and one character deals with an eating disorder. Nevertheless, these issues are an integral part of the story; they are neither idealized nor judged. Further, these are issues our children may be confronted by during their middle school and high school years. "Populazzi" seems to be an excellent starting point for discussion and for sharing those values which you personally view as being important.
I have rated this book as a 5-star read, both for its writing and its value as a discussion tool. It is a book that will hold the interest of almost any reader. Because it is a novel which engages the reader in the charcters' lives and challenges, it is hard to put down. It is a novel to be read and shared.