Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie

The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie
Publisher:Westside Books
Publish Date: December 15, 2010
Hardcover, 334 pages
ISBN: 978-1934813447
Young Adult, Fiction

My Review:
The Princess of Las Pulgas is an amazing book. I could not put it down. It felt real, dealt with real situations, played on real sympathies and really didn't pull any punches.  It's about finding yourself wherever you are and being true to yourself and knowing and finding your true friends.  It is a feel-good book with important lessons and great entertainment value.

Carlie's life has dealt her a tough blow with the loss of her dad to cancer.  While she's still reeling from that situation, she learns that she, her mom and her brother have to move from their house in Channing to Las Pulgas which is nowhere near the same type of area she is use to living in, it's a little rougher and their apartment is much smaller.  Life is a big change for Carlie and her brother Keith and her mom as well.  The high school is a real eye-opener for both of the siblings.  Keith wants nothing to do with the track team, Carlie wants nothing to do with anyone, she wants to remain friends with her best friend Lena in Channing and her hopeful new boyfriend Sean who is also in Channing.

She however begins to meet some much more colorful people that teach her that people aren't always what they seem.  The transition she faces is challenging but wonderful to watch.  Both her, Keith and her mom have major changes to face and choices to make whether to accept what they have been given or just give up.  The story is amazing and it flows so well.  I love seeing Carlie change and also her brother Keith as well.  The characters have very real reactions in this book and I loved getting to know the students as Las Pulgas was great too.  Ms. McKenzie has a great way of bringing her characters to life and those characters shine in The Princess of Las Pulgas.

This will go down as one of my favorite YA books so far this year.  It is just that enjoyable.  If you want a wonderful contemporary YA novel then The Princess of Las Pulgas is for you.

My Rating:  5.0/5.0

About the Book:
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas. 

About the Author:
Native Californian C. Lee McKenzie has always been a writer. But she's also been a university professor and administrator, and for five years, she wrote and published a newsletter for university professors. Her fiction and nonfiction for young readers has been published in the award-winning e-zine, Stories for Children, and Crow Toes Quarterly has published her ghostly tales. When she isn't writing, Lee hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos, California. She is also the author of Sliding on the Edge, a young adult novel published by WestSide Books in Spring 2009.

FTC Information: I received this book through The Teen Book Scene to review for the current tour.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.