Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? A nice option for reluctant readers into wish-fulfillment. The star of this busy beach read is Zora Emerson, a high-achieving and socially conscious 16-year-old girl of color who’s taking courses at prestigious Halstead (read “Princeton”) University. Zora founded an afterschool care program in her small New Jersey city of Appleton and that has led to both the summer scholarship and a nomination for a “Goodie” award (for teen philanthropy.) On campus, a cell phone mix-up leads to a “meet cute” with an actual prince (ginger-haired Owen) from the fictional British-esque country of Landerel. Misunderstandings, paparazzi and awkward parental situations make up some of the action-packed plot, resulting in an invitation to upcoming royal nuptials in Landerel, where Owen’s older brother is soon to marry a mixed race beauty named Sophie. Zora’s family is supportive, interesting and proud of their daughter and their African-American heritage.
Anything you didn’t like about it? It’s very breathless and crammed with far too many story elements. The plot is absurdly predictable, but presumably, this will make it smooth sailing for hi-low readers. Except for Zora, the cast is two-dimensional, although Owen has a sad backstory to explain his occasional melancholy.
To whom would you recommend this book? Fans of the Princess Diaries who long to see a girl of color command the center stage. The romance is very chaste, consisting only of flowers, one or two kisses and a lot of texting. Things get more interesting once Zora and her mom arrive in Landerel and get to choose their outfits and rectify hair emergencies.
Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries. Readers in grades 5-9.
Where would you shelve it? Fiction, or for genrefied collections, romance.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: March 17, 2019