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Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here Hardcover – April 19, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-High school junior Scarlett is heavily involved with the Lycanthrope High TV show's online fandom, writing fan fiction and live tweeting the show. In real life, she is mostly invisible, hanging out with her supersmart best friend, Avery, and her elderly neighbor Ruth. When her favorite show is canceled, Scarlett and her online friends are devastated. And then her real life starts falling apart. The teen begins writing new fanfic, set in the Lycanthrope High world but based on events and people in the real world. She does not paint the most flattering portraits of them, so when her writing is discovered by people in her school, there are serious consequences. The initial impression of the book is of a quippy, good-time read. But as Scarlett's life takes a dive, the tone darkens. Breslaw includes Scarlett's fanfic, which is engaging to read, especially when she is stymied and writing in terrible clichés. Unfortunately, while the inclusion of the protagonist's work and Tumblr-speak feels fresh, many of the main ideas do not: a smart, pretty girl hiding her light; a rough-around-the-edges single mom with a heart of gold; an absent dad with a perfect new family; and a mean girl who is not so mean. The book feels uneven and loses steam toward the end, but it is a quick read that is still enjoyable. An abundance of scenes with teens drinking casually make this title more appropriate for high schoolers. VERDICT A fine additional purchase.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"Absolutely delightful, the kind of book you'll be reading for an hour before you realize you've been grinning the whole time. Sarcastic, hilarious, and secretly sensitive Scarlett will be immediately recognizable to anyone who spent their teenage years unsure of what they were doing or where they fit in (i.e., anyone who was ever a teenager).” —Buzzfeed
"Though her life is full of good people—her mother, her best friend, Avery, her delightfully vinegary neighbor Ruth—who hold up loving mirrors to her most judgmental, emotionally distancing impulses, Scarlett stubbornly sees herself as an underachieving loner with a uniquely sophisticated read on the world…readers will quickly see what Scarlett doesn’t: that she pushes people away, that her underachievement is a pose, that she’s often thoughtlessly cruel and self-absorbed, and that’s she’s worth rooting for anyway. A sparkling, unabashedly feminist debut.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Super-realistic and laugh-out-loud funny…By the time you're done, you seriously might grab your cell to text Scarlett and then feel bummed when you remember she's a fictional character.” —Seventeen
"Scarlett is very funny, and her first-person narration is full of snappy literary and cultural references that will endear her to readers. But Breslaw doesn’t allow her heroine to hide behind her wit. Eventually, Scarlett begins to truly see the pain and beauty of reality. A perfect match for fans of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl." —Booklist
“Smart and witty, laced with snarky pop-culture references and crackling one-liners à la Gilmore Girls.” —Publishers Weekly
“Breslaw’s humor is biting, vicious, and laugh-into-the-page funny….[a] pitch-perfect teen tale.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“[Scarlett] is acerbically clever and surly in all the best ways….Fans of character-driven stories, members of fandoms, and teens who live on Tumblr will devour this immensely readable and hilarious story.” —VOYA
“Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Harriet the Spy in this coming-of-age tale filled with emotional resonance.”—TeenVogue.com
“A very funny, very smart, very real story that works on every level. Scarlett Epstein is the hardest kind of character to pull off: someone at once heart-stirringly familiar and totally unique. Anna Breslaw has a beautifully calibrated ear for how people talk, type, and think." —Jesse Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
"Laughs, pop culture, and heart: Welcome to Anna Breslaw's world. You'll love it here." —DC Pierson, author of Crap Kingdom and The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To
"Scarlett Epstein is so funny and smart it makes me wish I were her when I was a dorky Jewish teen.” —Megan Amram, author of Science…For Her!
"Fresh, raw, immediate and true. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here feels so hip and now and yet somehow echoes back to Judy Blume. I fell in love with Scarlett and cried the kind of reading tears that slide down your temples and pool in your ears. It’s also laugh-through-your-tears funny, though, and gets five Jersey tomatoes from this girl who knows Jersey.”—Wendy Wunder, author of The Probability of Miracles and The Museum of Intangible Things
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I’ve been having a problem lately with people who are very anti-conformist. Scarlett does love a very popular TV show in her world and in that way she’s not anti-conformist. But her personality dealing with the people in her real life felt very much like that and while there’s a whole turning point and she grows situation (which definitely felt real, it felt correct for the character), it just felt like that only happened because it kind of had to. There was no where for the character to go because there was no where she’d gone for 3/4ths of the book. There were moments where you think, okay she’s going to not be so abrasive and then for random reasons she’d stop. The story also felt that way too. We’d be going in one direction and then suddenly the story went somewhere else. It all just felt very cobbled together. Not that real life can’t be that way, but it just didn’t work for this book.
It felt like this book was predictable, but then also it had moments of not being predictable because it didn’t want to be too predictable. (Say predictable one more time). That COULD have worked, but it never really gelled.
Also I had a very hard time believing that a teenager in current time would make so many 80’s references. I love 80’s references, I really do. But some things even I was like, wait, what was that reference. OH! I kind of remember that. It was fun to see them, but it felt too much like I was reading from the perspective of the author and not from the character. But then typing that I feel like maybe I missed a point because we got a fanfic story where the character injects herself into the story she’s writing. So maybe that was what the author of this book meant? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In the end, the parts of the book I really liked and thought, oh it’s turning around for me, just never stayed consistent enough for me to give this book more stars.
I'm not sure where to even start with Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw. It's so incredibly witty and hilarious, featuring a strong, young voice that does not waiver even through heavy emotional scenes. Scarlett had me laughing out loud, fighting back tears, and wishing this was its own television show (which would be very meta considering it starts with the end of Scarlett's favorite show).
Wow, there are so many things I liked about this book. First and foremost, I liked (read: LOVED) Scarlett as a narrator, writer, main character, fictitious teenager, etc. Her voice is strong, and when I say strong, I REALLY MEAN IT. Every page has something hilarious on it. Her wit is beyond measure. I knew some funny kids in my days of high school, but none on par with Scarlett. Also, her maturity and understanding of the world is exceptional. And she has values, AND STICKS WITH THEM. She doesn't let her hormones get in the way. She doesn't let being intoxicated fog her view of the problems at hand (I literally made a note while reading: DRUNK SCARLETT FOR PRESIDENT. EPSTEIN 2016!). I just love her so much. I would have wanted to be her friend in high school.
So, besides Scarlett, the book is filled with other wonderful characters including, but not limited to: Dawn, Ruth, Avery, Ashley, Gideon, and Scarlett's online friends (That's basically the entire list of characters, without mentioning super-side-characters that Scarlett dismissed or disliked). This should be a good sign for you as a reader. The characters and their flaws were likable! Hooray! A book with a super likable main character, surrounded by other super likable side characters. It's almost like they're REALISTIC.
The story was something I could relate to because, in middle school, I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction. I understand fandom life to a certain extent, but as an adult now, I'm not as deeply invested as I was when I was younger. I'm not embarrassed, but we won't speak of this again.
I could really go on for hours about how much I loved this book, citing certain scenes and bits of dialogue, but just trust me. Read this book.
Let's just say that I read a "sneak peek" of this book and immediately went out to pre-order it- SO YES. I highly recommend this.
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That isn't an exaggeration. Scarlett Epstein feels like an outcast in her high school--she and her mom are poor, her best guy friend's ditched her, and on top of that, she's an judgy snarkmonster who has exacting standards for her friends and the people around her. And when her favorite TV show is cancelled--a kind of Teen Wolf meets Buffy--the community she's built online might be falling apart too, the only place she feels comfortable being the writer she wants to be.
And then Scarlett starts the slow, painful process of growing up.
This is a book that doesn't let anyone off the hook. It's hilarious, wry and witty and weird, full of characters who are complicated and flawed, and so much of the pleasure in reading it is watching Scarlett learn that her snap judgments might be right in the moment but not always right in the long run. I really, especially loved Breslaw's knowing send-up of white literary bro Brooklyn; Scarlett coming to terms with who her rich, fancy writer father is to her was the most painful, and rewarding, part of this book for me to read.
One thousand stars
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