By: Jennifer Ziegler
Publisher: Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 6, 2011
2011 is the 200th anniversary of the STILL unparalleled novel, Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and Ms. Ziegler has offered a modern interpretation that is entertaining, real, and extremely well-written.
Gabby Rivera and her younger sister Daphne live in Barton, Texas - one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else. Gabby wants nothing more than to finish out her senior year and get as far away from this ridiculous place as possible. She hates being completely and utterly responsible for everything. She’s the dutiful daughter who takes care of her mother and tries to help her pay the bills, because the family is financially in trouble ever since Dad up and walked away and doesn’t pay child support. Gabby is also the girl who can’t stand the boys and girls in her class because they are basically morons. The only friend she has is “Mule” - a quiet young man who is used to putting up with her grumbling, mumbling ways. Gabby is so tired of her sister getting away with murder…the girl doesn’t seem to have to do anything in life and Gabby is sick of it!
Daphne, of course, is the exact opposite. Daphne believes in fairy-tale romances, love at first sight, and she loves her dad’s visits no matter what. She simply doesn’t care that he doesn’t pay - he’s her absolute hero. Daphne is what Gabby calls one of the ‘morons;’ she is part of the JV cheerleading squad and doesn’t seem to realize that she needs to get a job and help out the family. She’s so tired of Gabby being the prettier one, the smarter one, the one Mom likes…and Daphne wants to find a way to fit into the world by living ‘happily ever after.’
Running late for class, again, Daphne runs directly into a young man in the school hallway. Luke is a new kid and Daphne immediately sees him as the man waiting for her down the aisle as she floats toward him in a white wedding dress. Luke reads romance novels, he’s shy and kind, and Daphne simply can’t wait to become his girlfriend. Unfortunately, Daphne doesn’t realize that Luke has his own fears when it comes to being the new kid, and may not be the Prince Charming Daphne thinks he is.
Gabby now has to put up with her sister who’s once again stuck in her “dreamy world.” After seeing Mom and Dad, Gabby doesn’t believe in love. The only time she even experienced anything like it, she was a young girl at 13, and met up with a boy named Sonny in the town’s park. Of course, that’s all just a memory now.
Mom tells Gabby that they’re about to get kicked out of their home. They find a place to live - a caretaker’s cottage beside a manor house - where a boy Gabby blames for quite a bit lives with his rich family. Not only must Gabby deal with her sister, her job, school, grades, but now she has to see the boy who she believes may have wrecked her life so long ago.
This is a wonderful story that will remind many who have that sister, how hard it is to grow up beside the “perfect one.” As any sibling - young or old - will see in this fun, high-spirited novel, no life is ever perfect, and the sister you literally can’t stand will always be the one you defend and support. In other words, YOU can ruin your sister’s life, but NO ONE else can. After all, you’ve earned the right, haven't you?
Quill Says: This is a warm, entertaining story with a whole lot of heart!