Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Daughters

The Daughters is the first YA contemporary novel in Joanna Philbin's series of the same name.

Katia Summers is drop-dead, stunningly gorgeous and a famous, instantly recognizable supermodel. She is followed by adoring fans and rabid paparazzi. And Lizzie Summers is her only daughter. At fourteen, Lizzie is finding that it becoming more difficult to be Katia's daughter, as she is no longer the adorable little girl of America's beloved model, but instead the awkward, odd-looking girl that takes after her plain, journalist father, without a trace of the beauty gene.

But Lizzie has her two best friends, two other girls that know what it is like to have famous parents and be under the radar by default. One is Carina, daughter of billionaire businessman Karl Jurgensen, and the other is Hudson, daughter of popstar icon Holla James. With them by her side, Lizzie tries to let go of her lack of looks and embrace the good news that her now-very-cute childhood neighbor Todd has returned and seems to share her love of The Great Gatsby and writing.

However, Lizzie ends up being approached by a fashion photographer who believes her unique appearance could be "the new face of beauty." And the choices she make turns everything sideways. Is there a chance she's not an ugly duckling after all? And what will her family - specifically her mother - think of her possibly gaining some spotlight of her own?

The Daughters has an instant joyful, fun, fluffy feel as we are introduced to the realistically insecure, yet trying to be confident, Lizzie and her close friends. Joanna Philbin writes in such a way that you feel like these girls are real, that they just happen to have famous parents, which brings out a fascinating glimpse of a life that the children of stars inherit without choice and what consequences that brings. This is made all the more interesting since we know that Joanna Philbin is a "daughter" herself, being the real-life daughter of Regis Philbin.

Romance and awesome details about a New York privileged life abound, but without it ever becoming Gossip Girl. There's tons of drama, but it is more personal and relatable - actually down to earth. And to be honest with you, reading such light, happy fare was refreshing after reading the very dark Summer of Fear!

Lizzie is a great character - she has that love of writing that so many of us readers relate to and image issues that aren't self-pitying, but more frank and sad. The Daughters is delightfully addictive and fast-paced, presenting fantastic themes of self-identity, self-confidence, family, friendship, and gaining acceptance of flaws. And all of this is done without dipping it in sugar, nor drenching it in Dateline seriousness.

I found The Daughters to be sweet, touching and very, very enjoyable. Plus, with a cliffhanger ending I was ready to head for the second novel in the series, The Daughters Break the Rules, immediately!!!

I was left feeling very enthusiastic about this series, and ready for more! I think you will be too. And don't let Lizzie's young age fool you - I'm 23 and loved it!

*I received a review copy of The Daughters from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

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