Tuesday, July 15, 2014

‘Being Audrey Hepburn’ (Book Review)

The story of Cinderella captures the mind of many a young girl even into her teens. Who wouldn’t want to put on a fancy dress and suddenly be accepted into the grand world of the rich and powerful? Author Mitchell Kriegman has a new take on this familiar story in Being Audrey Hepburn (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2014). Snatching a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the heroine Lisbeth tries on her movie icon’s dress right in the museum, but then finds herself accidentally mingling with the guests at a high profile charity event. In an instant, working class, Jersey girl Lisbeth becomes part of New York’s jetset crowd, complete with tempting new friendships, career, and of course love. But she must make sure that her new social circle doesn’t find out who she really is!

As an adult, it can be difficult to judge juvenile fiction, because the plots are so predictable and there’s a lot of over description. However, I think Kriegman did a good job taking a classic storyline and giving it a new twist. Unlike many of the old movies that really do tell girls that all you have to do is put on a designer gown to fit in with high society, the character Lisbeth has to constantly watch what she says and does, fearful that her accent and manners will give herself away. But that’s not to say that at times things weren’t a little too perfect. Stories like this fly in the face of reality when the happy ending is just a little too perfect. Also, it’s bad enough that every guy has to fall in love with the heroine, but even her lesbian friend too? I thought the kissing scene, however innocent the author tried to make it, was a terrible idea. It only serves to propagate a false stereotype about homosexuals - She must be interested in me! - and makes censure by more conservative parents more likely.

Being Audrey Hepburn is a book that many young girls will find entertaining, and while its broader message is suspect, there are a few good points. It shows that things can work out even when you have a really tough family situation. It also shows that a girl doesn’t have to stay stuck with a life plan that she hates, but can pursue new opportunities if she puts her mind to it. While I didn’t necessarily expect to enjoy this book, I was pleasantly surprised by it and would recommend it with a caution to parents about language and sexuality.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reading copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway winner on GoodReads.com. There was no obligation to write a review.