Sarah's Stars

Maureen Johnson. Suite Scarlett
Point $18.99  ISBN 978-0-439-89927-7  353 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

"This is Mrs. Amberson," she said to Scarlett. "She'll be here all summer."
"All summer?" Scarlett repeated.
"All summer," Mrs. Amberson said.
"All summer," her mother said again. "In the Empire Suite."
"The Empire Suite?" Scarlett said.
"This is adorable," Mrs. Amberson cut in. "Do you often sing in rounds? Makes sense. You look a bit like the Von Trapps."

On Scarlett Martin's fifteenth birthday she, just like her two older siblings before her, is given a suite to take care of in the hotel her family owns in New York City. The Empire Suite is grand and glamorous just like the rest of the hotel but the business isn't going so good. The elevator stalls and creaks, some of the toilets don't work and many of the rooms remain unused. And it's partly Scarlett's younger sister Marlene's fault, because of all the medical bills. Marlene is whiny and bratty but she's also a cancer survivor, so naturally she's the center of attention. Along with Marlene, there's Scarlett's older brother Spencer, an out-of-work actor who is trying desperately to find an acting gig before time runs out or he'll be forced to go to culinary school, and finally Lola, who is the top seller at her job and has the wealthy, as well as clueless, Chip for a boyfriend.

When all of Scarlett's friends ditch her for more exciting adventures in the summer time, the fresh fifteen-year-old has resigned herself to the fact that her summer more than likely won't be very interesting. But then Mrs. Amberson shows up, a rich and glitzy actress from thirty years ago. She makes herself at home in Scarlett's Empire Suite so unfortunately, the poor girl is slave to Mrs. A's every whim. Strange requests and strange ideas aside, Scarlett and Mrs. Amberson form a tentative bond and then somehow the old woman becomes entangled in Spencer's new show, a production of Hamlet. Will Scarlett manage to survive the summer with Mrs. Amberson following her every move? Will Hamlet be a success? And will Scarlett ever snag the gorgeous guy?

Suite Scarlett is witty, touching and very entertaining. Mrs. Amberson is a bossy, yet loveably zany character and Scarlett's tight family bonds will stick with the reader long after the story ends. There are three main plots that take place in the book: Scarlett having to put up with Mrs. Amberson, Spencer's Hamlet show and the classic quest for the unfairly adorable guy. In this case his name is Eric and he is a young thespian with a delicious Southern accent. The story manages to wrap itself up neatly, and I appreciated that it wasn't entirely cookie-cutter simple. As well as the three main predicaments to propel the story forward there are all manner of subplots that add a special charm to the tale. Suite Scarlett's characters and lessons will resonate with readers as well as entertain them. Having read author Maureen Johnson's blog in its entirety, I can say that the wacky situations are definitely true to her style of writing. Fans new and old alike will laugh aloud and treasure Suite Scarlett's adventure and it most certainly makes a worthy addition to any YA library. And that is sweet indeed.

I give Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett five stars.


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