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Gr. 7-10. There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast. I speak from bitter experience. So begins the wry, engaging narrative in which Julie relates the trials and rewards of her firm friendship with Ashleigh, an enthusiast. Since elementary school, Ashleigh has taken up one craze after another, from military strategy to ballet, from Harriet the Spy to King Arthur, and dragged her best friend along for companionship. But when Ashleigh begins sophomore year speaking Jane Austen's prose and crashing an exclusive prep school's cotillion to dance the Founder's Quadrille, she commits a double fault: she takes ownership of Julie's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, and she sets her determined sights on the boy Julie secretly adores. Shulman captures the agony and the irony of Julie's struggles to find her own way as she navigates the conventions of a culture that, for all its twenty-first-century trappings, still leaves young women hoping that the young men of their dreams will recognize and return their unspoken affections. While familiarity with Austen's world through her books or, more likely, the movie renditions will deepen readers' appreciation for Shulman's impressive first novel, it is by no means a prerequisite to enjoying this involving and often amusing narrative of friendship, courtship, and (of course) true love. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2006 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-Best friends Julia and Ashleigh, both avid Jane Austen fans, are looking for a little romance, but Julia's approach is much more conservative than Ashleigh's. Ashleigh's latest craze involves crashing the fall dance at the local boys' prep school in search of men and, perhaps, her Mr. Darcy. Julia, who's not sure about this idea, reluctantly goes with her. There they are befriended by two boys, one of whom happens to be the Mysterious Stranger Julia had previously spotted in the mall. The four teens establish a friendship, and, for the first time, Julia feels the crush of friendship guilt: she longs to get to know the Mysterious Stranger, but Ashleigh has proclaimed feelings for him first. This frustration is exacerbated when the girls receive parts in the boys' school play and the four see one another almost every day. Julia begins to receive small gifts and love notes, but cannot allow herself to believe they could be from the boy she wishes had sent them. Add to that another suitor for Julia and she is completely confused about love in the 10th grade. She has a cool head on her shoulders, however, and pulls through without melodrama and experiences her satisfying first (and second) kiss. A charming romantic comedy.-Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Despite the fact that Julie Lefkowitz is often exasperated by her best friend Ashleigh, "an Enthusiast," the 15-year-old loyally tolerates and often takes part in Ashleigh's various crazes. Ashleigh's current interest is the book Pride and Prejudice, and her latest scheme is to crash a formidable boys' school to attend a dance and find a 21st-century version of Mr. Darcy for herself, as well as a suitable companion for Julie. Dressed in vintage gowns, the girls do manage to slip into the dance and hook up with two agreeable young gentlemen. The problem is that both girls become smitten with the same guy-the shyer, more refined of the two boys. What follows is a sequence of witty exchanges, comic errors and miscommunications that could be taken right out of a Jane Austen novel. When all four characters get cast in a play, opportunities for passionate encounters abound; love triangles emerge and eventually evolve into appropriate romantic pairings. Those familiar with Jane Austen's writing style and themes will most appreciate the many overt and subtle references to the 19th-century author. If a couple of episodes seem a little over the top (as when Parr-allegedly-gets locked out of campus and climbs through Julie's window to share her bed for the night), readers caught up in this debut novel's romantic whimsy and humor will willingly suspend their disbelief. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved