Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Scarlett, #1)

"Never assume," Mrs. Amberson said. "This city is unique. Every place you go -- everything you do -- you never know who's watching. There's always an opportunity, if you know how to spot it."

After having read the sequel to this book, Scarlett Fever, last month in an ignorant misstep, I was eager to read this book and catch up on exactly what I had missed. Keeping the fact that I knew almost everything about what was going to happen in this storyline (there is a very good reason authors generally point out that sequels are to be read after the original), I still managed to enjoy it immensely. Yes, it took out a lot of the surprises that were meant for the reader, so that was a bummer. Still, the plot was well-written and engaging regardless.

Suite Scarlett is told from the third-person perspective of Scarlett Martin, a fifteen year-old girl who lives in a family-run hotel in New York City. It sounds glamorous, but Scarlett's life has been far from easy. After her little sister was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago, any money the hotel made was funneled into hospital bills. Though Marlene is now in remission, the hotel has been grasping at straws to keep itself going. The Martin family is now the only staff they have and even that may not be enough to keep the business from drowning.

Then enters Mrs. Amberson. An eccentric woman whose roots are in theatre and who is looking for her next big endeavor takes up residence in the room Scarlett has been charged with caring for. Mrs. Amberson offers to make the girl her assistant and Scarlett accepts. She needs the money and, after all, doubts that the woman would take no for an answer.

On top of all this, Scarlett's older brother and closest sibling, Spencer, is desperate to find some way to further his acting career. His parents have given him an ultimatum in which he must find an acting gig by a certain date or go to the culinary school that he has been given a scholarship to attend. When he lands a part in a garage production Hamlet, he and Scarlett have to lie to his parents in order to keep chasing his dream. This adds a whole new level of complexity to Scarlett's problems. Let's not even mention Spencer's cast mate, the Southern boy who has her head spinning from the moment she lays eyes on him.

All in all, Johnson has crafted yet another well-constructed, witty story about dealing with all the curve balls live loves to throw at a person. I love the way she writes her characters and fell even more in love with the Martin family upon seeing where the story began and how they came to reach the point they were at in Scarlett Fever. I think this is a great series and can't wait to see more of it.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Actors had other people living inside of them . . . lots of other doubts that the woman would take no for an answer.