Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

| | Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

I've been reading Maureen Johnson's blog for ages  (especially enjoyed this post on the importance of sex education), and had read one of her books (Devilish ) which I enjoyed but didn't especially love, and I was beginning to worry that I might actually like her blog better than her books (gasp!). 

But, I checked out Suite Scarlett... and then it sat in my basket of books for months, waiting to be read. I was this close to returning it unread, but figured I should be a good sport and give it the first fifty pages.  I read the first chapter, and I was immediately drawn into Scarlett's world.

Scarlett, age 16, lives in a hotel, owned and run by her family, in New York City.  This may sound glamorous, but as is immediately evident, it is not. At all. The hotel's financial troubles are so bad that the only staff left is the family: Scarlett, perfect older sister Lola, actor-wannabe older brother Spencer, and cancer-survivor younger sister Marlene. 

When each sibling turns sixteen, they are given a particular suite in the hotel to care for -- and Scarlett's suite comes with an unusual guest -- Mrs. Amberson, a former actress, with a few tricks up her sleeve.

And then, there's Eric -- Spencer's new friend and fellow actor, who just happens to be very interested in Scarlett...

Johnson demonstrates a gift for bringing characters to life, and I found myself just as interested in the stories of the secondary characters as I was in Scarlett's*.  There were so many moments where the novel could have become predictable or cliche, but then something completely unexpected would happen instead.  Suite Scarlett is engrossing and original and highly recommended.

And, as if I needed one more reason to love the book, there was even a mention of Joe's Shanghai and their famous soup dumplings !**

Readers might also enjoy:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart    (another strong female character and an unpredictable plot)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, both by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan    (life in New York City)
The Joys of Love by Madeleine L'Engle    (also centered around the  theater)

Also, completely unrelated, but I just realized this morning (thanks Josie!) that I forgot to restart the e-mail subscription, so those of you who read this via e-mail may have missed a few posts! So sorry!!!

*If I might make a request -- maybe a sequel about Lola?  or Marlene? (maybe about when Marlene gets her suite at sixteen? Pretty please?)

** These dumplings are the real reason I go to New York City -- even if I tell Matt otherwise ;)


Court said...

I've never read Devilish, but I've enjoyed everything else that Maureen Johnson has written that I've read. Loved this one so much - so happy that you've enjoyed it as well! Like you, I found the secondary characters' stories as interesting as Scarlett's.

(What about a sequel about Spencer?)

Sara said...

Oh yeah, Spencer too... I just thought he got a little more "screen time" than the other siblings, so I thought he didn't need his own sequel quite as much. But I'd totally read it if it ever existed!

I'm definitely going to go check out more of Maureen Johnson's books now... maybe Devilish was just a one off (and it was enjoyable too... it just didn't blow me away)

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