Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

From Goodreads: Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash , everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes was a book that left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the plot wasn’t exactly what I expected, and the characters were hard to like. But on the other hand, Paige’s emotions as a teenager felt realistic.

To be honest, I thought The Princesses of Iowa would deal more directly with the consequences of the drunk driving accident that Paige and her friends were involved in. Instead, Paige’s incredibly shallow mother ships her daughter off to Paris in the middle of the night to be an au pair for the summer (so that everyone can forget that Paige was involved in a car accident), and by the time Paige returns, it’s a subject that she and her friends ignore discussing. They’d much rather think about becoming the homecoming queen – a goal they and their mothers have been working towards for a very long time.

Midway through the book, The Princesses of Iowa suddenly begins to deal with gay rights. Although Backes does manage to tie it together into the overall plot, considering that the topic of drunk driving was barely addressed, I thought it was perhaps one issue too much.

Furthermore, none of the characters were overly appealing. Paige herself isn’t exactly nice, makes dumb decisions, and isn’t there for her best friend Lacey when Lacey needs her. She also becomes jealous and suspicious that her boyfriend Jake (who has been friend with Lacey for years) is cheating on her when Lacey starts relying on Jake for a sympathetic ear.

What I really liked though about The Princesses of Iowa was that Backes shows that life is complicated. Things may not always work out the way you want, rumours can spiral out of control, and best friends can grow apart. Those are situations that we all understand and can really relate to.

The Princesses of Iowa will be released by Candlewick Press on May 8, 2012.

Comments About the Cover: It’s nothing special, but it’s clear from the cover that the book is a contemporary.

Note: One particular thing that bothered me extremely was that Paige was almost raped by Jake in The Princesses of Iowa. The book however makes it seem like a trivial event used to further the plot, especially because Paige never mentions the incident and repeatedly insists that Jake is a good guy at heart.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Candlewick Press) for free via NetGalley.


  1. There are a lot of things about this book that would irritate me, especially the lack of addressing serious issues such as the almost rape scene and the drunk driving. My beef is that if you're going to include tough topics then have the guts to discuss them don't just add them to the appeal factor. This really turned me off and I'm going to pass on the book. Thanks for the heads up and honest review, Z.

  2. Hm. It seems strange that the drunk driving accident didn't get touched on considering it was the catalyst for her leaving for the summer. And then to switch issues entirely to gay rights, despite the tie in, would be a little frustrating for me. I don't think this is one I'll pick up, but fabulous review Z!

  3. Yeah, not sure if this book is for me. It sounds alright. Too bad that the author did not tackle the issue of drunk driving. That probably would make the story a bit more better. Great review.

  4. Thanks for the honest review... this one was on my TBR list but I'm not so sure about it anymore. I'm a new follower and just wanted to drop by and say hi :)

    Feel free to check out my blog & follow too!!

    -Riya (The Teen Book Guru)

  5. I always thought the cover made this book look like a roadtrip book. If Jake tried to rape her then in no way is he a good guy. I would probably want to shake some sense into Paige for thinking that.

  6. Ummm...HOT MESS! That's the first thought I had about the story after reading your review. Yeah, I have to agree, way too many issues are being presented but not addressed. There just doesn't seem to be any character growth, and without that, I just don't see the point in reading it.

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Z.


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