Fact: Maureen Johnson is hilarious. I know it, she knows it, John Green knows it, and, once you read this novel, you’ll know it too.* Unless you’ve heard her speak at a certain nerdy convention, then you already know. THE POINT IS, she is full of wit and snark and she makes me laugh, especially in Suite Scarlett.
When I found out she would be the keynote speaker at the Book Blogger Convention (BBC), I decided to read some of her books because I like to do my homework. I read Devilish and 13 Little Blue Envelopes, neither of which I really enjoyed. I actively avoided reading Suite Scarlett because of the cover, assuming it would be a middle-of-the-road “chick lit” novel. I was confused, then, when I met Maureen and she was so charismatic and entertaining. Why weren’t her books like that? At the BBC, we were given a copy of the audio book for Suite Scarlett, so I suspended my bias regarding the cover and decided to give her work another chance.
It’s tradition in Scarlett Martin’s hotel owning/running family that upon turning fifteen, one is given the responsibility of maintaining a suite and any possible guests that suite might have. Scarlett is a bit taken aback when she is given the Empire Suite, the most fancy and expensive in the entire hotel. She assumes her parents don’t think she can handle the assignment, which is quite possible since the hotel rarely has guests as it is, never mind in the most costly set of rooms. Then a tornado of a guest, Mrs. Amberson, arrives and rents the Empire suite, hires Scarlett as her assistant, and becomes deeply involved in Scarlett’s older brother Spencer’s acting career. Hijinks ensue. But smart ones!
Suite Scarlett is the book I was wishing Maureen had written. Although there’s a love story, it isn’t corny, and the book ends up being more about Scarlett and her family (with New York City an honorary member). And it passes the Bechdel Test**!
On the narration: She did all the voices, all the emotions, even fake coughs. One of the better narrations I’ve heard.
*You are allowed to disagree, of course. Just don’t tell me, because it will make me frown.
** Although usually used in regard to movies, the Bechdel Test requires 1) at least two female charcters who 2) talk to each other 3) about something other than boys. You’d be surprised by just how many movies and books do not reach this simple goal.
Disclosure: The mp3 audio version of the book was included in the BBC swag bag.