As sugary tween dramas go, this one isn’t too bad… though whether you want to read sugary tween dramas at all is another question. This book is like a milder version of ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’, not quite as shocking but definitely trying to appeal to growing-up girls.
The style feels consistent with moody tweens: a lively combination of over-played dramas, friendship spats, kid fun and impossibly sweet happy endings. That the book itself feels immature could be due either to poor writing or the author’s successful immersion into the world she describes.
Digging deeper one finds plenty of good intentions: advice on friendship issues and peer pressure and premature romance; following one’s dreams; seeing through wealth and poverty; a superficial but basically good recognition of the value of caring for personal appearance and fashion; understanding that parents also have their struggles and the need to give them time; and particularly how reading can bring people together, facilitate communication, and teach a lot about life.
While these good points come through a little shallow (this book is by no means Little Women, the book which the book club is studying), the story would set less confident readers on more or less the right track.
A few points to mention: one of the mothers is living away from her family for a year to star on a soap opera, she later realises she loves her family more than her career and returns home. The mothers do an awful lot to facilitate their daughters’ friendships and are always surprising them thoughtfully, which gives a rather unrealistically child-centred view of family. The boy-liking thing is dealt with well, showing that real friendship at this age is better. And by the end everyone is taking steps to start achieving their dreams… highly unrealistic but quaint.
I have to concede that of all the books in this style, this is one of the better ones. It all comes down to whether or not you actually want to read a book like this.