Retro Reviews

Populazzi by Elise Allen


Every so often, I will stumble across hard copies of some reviews of books I have read that I have yet to post! What?!? Yes, this happens, far more than I would like.

So, I’ve decided to introduce ‘Retro Reviews.’ This is a place where I can add reviews from the past to my site. Yay!

I picked up Populazzi at my local library, in their extensive collection of YA books that I decided I must check out (pardon the pun).

Popularity. It’s the one thing everyone needs to survive in high school (per the popular kids). Cara is, when we meet her, her own person. However, as she sinks further into the depths of ‘The Ladder’, Cara realizes more about herself than she thinks she might.

Sure, she caves at certain points, to peer pressure as many do. While I don’t necessarily agree with some of her choices, Cara is a teenager. She is trying to find her place. Everyone stumbles. And some triumph. And, at the end, what she will end up with will be a series of life lessons.

Author Elise Allen nails what it is like to be a girl; A girl uncertain of her ‘place’ in the social order of things. Luckily, Cara has Claudia, but I was really surprised at the relatively lonely experience Cara has. I wished she might’ve tried, earlier, to seek out friendship with people, but apparently that did not fit into the ‘Ladder’.

Cara is very secretive, and does many things to erode the relationship she has with her mother and stepfather. At the same time, her stepfather is irrational and totally inappropriate. Part of me thinks Cara got her ‘I matter to a guy so I might be amazing’ attitude from her mother. Multiple times, I wanted to either report her mother and stepfather or just close the book so I did not have to put up with their irrationality and codependency.

I really like the character of Archer and while I am confused about one particular interaction between Cara and Archer early on, but even with that, Archer remains the voice of reason. Archer is willing to tell Cara ‘the rough stuff,’ as is Claudia.

I do not agree with the way Cara did it, but I do think that a teenager girl as smart and responsible (in the past) as she deserves some levity and a chance to explore herself, even if she is trying to get into a very competitive college.

I sometimes felt like the novel was unfair, and then immediately too easy…it was very odd for me, such different and strong emotions in the book.

With Populazzi, author Elise Allen announces her entry into the competitive annals of YA fiction. Read her debut novel and know what all the popular kids are reading!

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