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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

[The Teen Book Scene Blog Tour] Review: The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie

I shall start this review with a quote:

"Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together."

For me, this short sentence quoted from Marilyn Monroe describes The Princess of Las Pulgas as a whole. A heartfelt, heart-wrenching stunning tale of loss, hope and love.

Title: The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie
Pages: 334
Release Date: November 28th 2010
Published by: Westside Books
Source: from author
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.

One of the countless important lessons I have learned from reading this book is to not be so hasty and start judging people based on what you see. Appearances can be very deceiving, and that is what Carlie was able to prove to herself when she set foot to Las Pulgas. With a family slowly falling apart because of her father's death, Carlie, her brother Keith and their mother had to leave behind the life of luxury and comfort they have known all their lives to make a new one for themselves. One far from the rich life. From a mansion overlooking the beach they were now in a cramped apartment in the seedy side of town, with neighbors screaming at each other, and mingling with kids with questionable characters.

Carlie was secretly grieving inside and it was slowly destroying her, hating everything and everyone in her new life, her new school, her new classmates. Her brother Keith was slowly giving in to the hatred he feels and their mother had to pick up the pieces their father left and try surviving with what was left of their family.

It was a struggle to read about Carlie. Going through the stages of grief was hard, and she had to do it in a new place she doesn't want to be. Hiding from friends, pretending and lying were her way to cope. I understood why Carlie was doing all those things. Everyone has their own way of coping up with the hurt and the loss, Keith took it out in school and Carlie found a way through writing.

The strength of character of each member of the Edmund family slowly but surely came out with each wrongs they did, each mistake they had to correct, each truth they had to accept. They're strong and though the problems keep on coming, they did not give up. Mrs. Edmund earned my respect, and I found myself liking Carlie so much.

Despite the seriousness of this novel, I loved reading about Carlie's life in school. Each person she met had their own story, their reasons why they behave the way they do and Carlie found unlikely friends and allies as she slowly pulls away from a life she couldn't ever get back and started building a better one with her friends in Class room number 9. Readers will meet diverse, interesting characters with depth that will add life to Carlie's gloomy world. Each one of them is important and characters such as K.T. and Alex felt like they were my own friends as I read about them.

Reading about Juan made me feel like I'm seeing Alex Fuentes from Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry. He might not be a bad boy, but Juan is the one guy who understood Carlie right from the start. He's the Othello to Carlie's Desdemona, and the perfect example of how prejudicial Carlie was. Because Juan Pacheco is not just the guy who works in Sam's Shack, or the boy who lives in a seedy hotel and works in a garage.

The Princess of Las Pulgas incorporates themes such as culture shock, stereotyping, and romantic conflicts in a story of one family's struggle to move forward, to see beyond the pain of losing a loved one as seen through a girl's eyes. The Princess of Las Pulgas gives hope to its readers.

C. Lee McKenzie writes with simplicity and finesse. From the first page down to the last, readers will not be able to let go of this book as they journey through Carlie's life self-discovery, friendships, family and love.

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Despite the numerous typographical and grammatical errors I saw in the ARC, it did not deter me from loving this book!

Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!

Book Cover:
I love how simple it is!

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.


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