ARC Book Reviews · YA Book Reviews

ARC Review: Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This does not in any way change how I feel about the book.

Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take? That’s why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper’s totally in.

There’s just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a lot of – or, really, any – dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend’s experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job…right?

From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City–and as the writer of her own destiny.

This book came out a while ago, but I’m so behind on these, I definitely want to make an effort to crank out some reviews soon. LBDLWL is the teenage version of The Devil Wears Prada meets Buzzfeed. Parts of this book were just as stressful as the chick lit inspiration behind it: Harper gets into some seriously sticky situations, with insane pressure on her to get everything done juuuust right – or else it’s the boot for her and twice the work for everyone else. Mix in a delightfully flirty and funny love interest, friendship drama, and small town woes, and you’ve got yourself a sure-fire good time summer read.

What I Liked: I’m honestly not big on contemporary fiction, but there are a fair few that really catch my eye and keep me locked in, and this book was one of them. While not necessarily the most #relatable as far as realistic fic goes, the shenanigans that Harper seems to revolve around are charmingly naive one second and cringe-worthy reality checks the next. While I’ve never worked for a hit teen magazine, I sympathized with the pressure for deadlines and meeting goals that can work their way into becoming an addiction if you do it right enough times. Shift is very much a tongue-in-cheek, Buzzfeed/Teen Vogue mash-up for the ages, and this originality definitely paid off for marketing this book to young readers of 2016. Compelling without being too campy, Stampler knows what she wants from the very start and doesn’t let a dull moment creep in to ruin the laughs and solidarity feels for every character involved.

What I Disliked: This isn’t really a complaint with the book, but I can’t stand secondhand embarrassment. It makes me so anxious and uncomfortable! Naturally, there are parts of this book that get VERY awkward, and aren’t always handled so well by our leading lady. The relationship between Harper and Ben is also not handled as well…okay, truthfully, I just didn’t like him! Just stay friends, please. Trying to force the weird “but maybe…” thing is not working out for you guys. Other bits, especially the dynamic between the Shift manager and Harper, dangerously toe the line of predictable vs understandable – however,  at the end of the day, the quirky mishaps and clever character creation (PRINCESS THE PUG, my god what a scene stealer) manages to stand out in an oversaturated field of high school chick lit.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5 key lime pies.

Recommended for: Moms who loved The Devil Wears Prada and young adults who loved Gossip Girl but wish it wasn’t so mean.

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