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The Princesses of Iowa Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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From School Library Journal
In this debut novel, Backes takes Dead Poets Society and brings it into the age of Mean Girls. Her writing style is witty while still being relatable, and the themes of acceptance and identity will ring true to teens... Backes re-creates a world that most teens already live in, with the overarching message that anyone can become more than what others perceive them to be.
—School Library Journal
Top Customer Reviews
The Princesses of Iowa book wasn't what I expected at all. It made me feel so much, I don't even really know where to begin. I can tell you that at the time of writing this review, it's been several weeks since I finished reading the book, and it's still on my mind.
Paige is a perfect princess. Or at least, that's the image she's projected to people her entire life. She and her two best friends have worked toward being princesses for most of their lives - being pretty, being popular, and having people see them as worthy of attention and admiration. That's all that really matters in life. But when Paige realizes how shallow and superficial she's been, and that her friends are just as bad - if not worse - life changes completely for her.
Her mother's obsessive need for perfection made Paige paranoid and self-conscious. I lost count of the number of times my jaw dropped at the critical things her mother said, or the back-handed compliments. As ridiculous as it may sound, there were moments when I wanted to cry, because I couldn't imagine a mother actually saying those things, being so selfish, or putting that much pressure on her daughter.
I connected with Paige on a very deep level. Even though her life was completely different from mine, I could put myself in her shoes so easily. Nobody really saw her for her. Nobody knew the real Paige. Paige didn't even really know the real Paige, but as she learned more about herself, as her character grew and changed, I was so proud of her for her self-discovery. Besides her own issues, and the tough life lessons she had to learn, she was surrounded by hypocrisy, racism, bigotry, and homophobia.Read more ›
I was having an engaging conversation with someone I had just met (as we were both volunteering for the same organization), and the as we kept talking it came up that we both like to read well developed stories. Not just to escape, but to read interesting stories that make one think. Which is why I had to tell another person why I had read, and enjoyed immensely, a book that was written in the voice of a teenage girl.
As an educated heterosexual adult male, the books most often recommended to me fall along the lines of the Bourne series. They are normally fine, but many times (ok, nearly all of the time) these books rely on the assumed excitement of being in dangerous situations. That's fine, but ...also why I end up reading more technical texts instead of reading for pleasure these days.
I can poke fun of myself, and have brought this up at various social functions because I think it's fairly funny. A couple of times The Princesses of Iowa was mentioned as something that I would definitely enjoy if I was looking for character development.
BUT - I'm a guy. I drink whiskey. I don't read teeny-bopper fiction, and barely made it through Harry Potter. My friends knew this, but still recommended that I give it a shot. Repeatedly.
Thinking more to placate friends I picked it up and got going.
Then something interesting happened; my housemate tried to talk to me. I was not impressed with her timing. I checked my watch and I had been reading for three hours ...and had no intention of stopping. As soon as I realized that was happening, I told her that it was interesting and we could talk about what was going on later - when I was done with the book.Read more ›
This was a very interesting book to read. I found myself seriously wanting to smack all of Paige's snobby friends and Paige upside the head. Although annoyed, I find it to be a good thing..It means that I really got into this book. There were so many interesting characters in this book, some obviously I hated, but others I really loved. The Princesses of Iowa deals with a lot of issues from teen drinking to homophobia to self-discovery and growth. I really enjoyed this book and the writing style, from the unusual beginning to the end.
I would absolutely love to read a sequel especially if its more about the down-to earth characters Shanti, Ethan and Mr. Tremont , who in my opinion made the book even more fantastic!
I really loved that this was based in Iowa! I was born in Iowa, but moved to Texas when I was 6. I have many lovely memories of Iowa. It is a very beautiful state!
Special Thanks to Candlewick Press and NetGalley for providing an e-galley in exchange for an honest review
Paige, as a girl who is both traditionally gorgeous and traditionally popular, is unlike everything I was in high school and everything I am now. She smokes, drinks, wears staggeringly high heels, and regularly applies mascara. In contrast, I've never tried a cigarette, have never had more than half a glass of wine (and that wasn't until I was 26), prefer to wear flats, and would probably end up looking like a rundown raccoon if I tried to put on mascara. In short, I shouldn't identify with Paige. But I do--and that is what's truly amazing about this book. Paige is such a real, true person that I feel for her even though we have nothing in common and even though there are many points in the narrative where I stopped to think, "Geez, she is a jerk."
Every so often, I will come across a book that is so all-consuming that I can't get out of its world. Yesterday, while I was reading this book, my boyfriend asked me a question. I vaguely recognized that he had spoken, but I had no idea what he'd said. I snapped my head up and said, "What? What?!" Not only was I annoyed at being jarred out of the book's universe, but I felt as if I shouldn't have to be. I was strangely detached from the real world, as if everything that was true existed only in the book.
I didn't want The Princesses of Iowa to ever end. Now that I have finished it, though, I'm just glad I can go back and flip through it whenever I want to find that world again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You'll finish it quickly, because you'll get sucked in and won't want to put it down. Feels real. I remember the insults and put-downs and infighting from people who were... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Al I.
I really enjoyed reading this book! It was very relatable and a believable high school story. Quick and easy weekend read. You feel like you are a part of the story as you read. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Book Lover in Florida
This was a very heartfelt novel with a little twist of "different" friendship! This is one of my personal favorites! I would recommend it as a MUST read😜Published 16 months ago by Ann
I received a copy of this book in exchanged for a honest review. In no way did the author or publishing company influence my review. Read morePublished 17 months ago by LauraElisabeth
One thing about having a lot of books on your kindle is that you never know what you are in the mood to read and it may take you a while to get around to a book that's been sitting... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Paula L. Phillips
I liked "The Princesses of Iowa"; even after I finished reading it. You may think this is a rather strange statement. Read morePublished on June 3, 2014 by Kaye Gilbert
Review originally posted on The Book Addict's Guide
I admit that I was a bit hesitant going into this book due to so many middle-of-the-road and disappointed reviews... Read more
The Princesses of Iowa is a well-written, believable story about young people learning about who they are and what is important for interacting with other humans. Read morePublished on April 23, 2014 by Brian Dowd
I grew up in rural Iowa and went to U. of Iowa for college. I do not know if it is true of this book, but there is an ENORMOUS amount of YA literature set in iowa - mostly due to... Read morePublished on April 12, 2014 by Amazon Customer