“Get used to the gossip, darling. Get used to walking into a room and having everyone in it whisper that you don’t belong. Get used to it, but don’t let those whispers defeat you. Strike back when they strike you. Don’t be weak.”
In a Nutshell: Orphaned girl Ella Harper has to work multiple jobs just to survive – one of which includes stripping in a shady bar. We get the typical rags-to-riches story as she finds out her dead biological father left her in the care of his multi-millionaire best friend, who willingly takes her in. We follow her adventures as she tries to navigate the lives of the elite, and her raging teenage hormones.
Read this if… you are no longer a minor. This has so many trigger warnings (drugs, rape, abuse, etc.) that I strongly feel that this should not be listed as a YA – I don’t care if the lead character is a young adult, the themes and the writing style is not fit for a young adult. So, if you’re looking for a guilty pleasure and don’t mind cliches, then maybe go ahead? But if you’re all for women empowerment, you’re just wasting your time. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I’m going to be completely honest and say this upfront: This was a disappointment. I went in expecting a light Princess Diaries-like story: the cover was a misdirection from the book’s theme and the synopsis did not give any inclination of the trigger warnings. Maybe I just wasn’t prepared for this or maybe it’s because I’ve just been in a reading slump or maybe I just really did not like so many aspects of this novel, I don’t know. But what I’m sure of is that the slut shaming abhors me. I was expecting Ella Harper to turn it all around, and for a while I had high hopes for her, but it all comes crashing down. The author dipped herself (themselves?) into so many of the elite’s, nay, the society’s, problems which should have been handled delicately: drugs, rape, abuse, gambling addiction, prostitution, to name a few. One of the obvious things in the book that I really need to highlight (and I’m sorry if this is a spoiler, so if you don’t like spoiler, go away) is that one of the guys drug a lady against her will, and tries to force himself on her – humiliates her in front of a number of people and plans to gang rape her. True, the entire thing was stopped because they were found out. But the vindication after that was a real joke. I wouldn’t even classify it as a vindication. She got to “play around” with the guy who she’s actually attracted to, while intoxicated (just for relief????) and she got to exact revenge on her attempted rapist by displaying him naked to an entire party and giving him a knock out punch, and suddenly you’re ok? Suddenly, that makes up for everything? NO. These themes are real and they are occurring in the society and should have been handled delicately.
Plus, the obvious similarities to Meteor Garden/Hana Yori Dango and Gossip Girl was a letdown. Normally, I’d be ok with that as I love those series, but the lack of originality is upsetting.
What I find nice though is how Elle was able to turn people around – how she was able to get people on her side. I think that was a good thing and her witty comebacks were really entertaining to read. It’s just there’s a lot of scenes and themes that I do not tolerate so I cannot rate this one any higher. I’m actually considering reading the next in the series, but that ending made the decision for me. I’ve just come to the conclusion that this book is so messed up, and not in the way I like it.