Deb Tawna wants to have a slumber party with Deb Elise’s narrator

I’ve gotta be honest – I’m not usually a big fan of the Young Adult genre.

Maybe I’m too far removed from being a teenager, or maybe I’m not removed enough. Whatever the case, it’s seldom my first choice in genres to read for pleasure.

Deb Elise’s Populazzi made me rethink that

It’s not hard to figure out why. Deb Elise did a phenomenal job creating a narrator who is smart, quirky, flawed, earnest, insecure, driven, kind, funny, and a bit misguided. In other words, human – someone so entirely relatable you feel like you know her.

As I followed Cara on her journey through the minefield of high school popularity, there were times I wanted to grab her by the ear, give her a good shake, and say, “girlfriend, what are you doing?”

And then maybe we’d hug and braid each other’s hair.

See, that’s what’s so powerful about this book – the fact that the characters aren’t just cardboard cutouts, but real people who make you want to laugh and cry and stay up all night reading the book because dammit, they’re your friends and you need to know RIGHT NOW what happens to them.

Not that I did that.

OK, I totally did that.

If you share my love of flawed-but-lovable characters who become your very best friends in just a few pages, you’ll definitely want to pick up Deb Elise’s Populazzi.

Here’s a quick synopsis in case you’ve missed it in the other Debs’ posts this week:

Cara Leonard always wished she could be one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say. They are the Populazzi, and they’ve always been many rungs on the Popularity Tower above Cara and her best friend Claudia.

Yet when Cara moves to a new school just before junior year, Claudia urges Cara to seize the opportunity and change her life… by using the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and by molding herself into the perfect girlfriend to guys higher and higher on the Popularity Tower, Cara will be able to achieve the ultimate goal: becoming Supreme Populazzi, the most popular girl in school

What starts off as a lighthearted social experiment becomes increasingly twisted and difficult, and Cara soon finds even the most basic things about herself aren’t what she always believed. Though the Ladder may seem like a straight climb to the top, for Cara it’s a sometimes-dark, sometimes-absurd, always-winding journey to find out who she really is.

***

What’s the last book you read that had characters so vivid, so well-crafted, so very, very human that you felt like you knew them? Please share, I’m always looking for good reads!

And please go buy Elise Allen’s Populazzi. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!


18 thoughts on “Deb Tawna wants to have a slumber party with Deb Elise’s narrator

  1. Characters make or break a novel for me. Even a non-fic book. If you don’t get me to fall in love or hate with your characters I don’t care where the story goes, I’m daydreaming as I turn pages – and when I stop. When I think of Harry Potter, I can’t remember which storyline is from which book – but I know which characters appeared or changed by book.

    I also loved Cara’s friends and foes alike. Especially the Paris Hilton like gal – no spoilers here. What I love about YA is that it’s grittier and more realistic to me than say romance because of the natural conflicts of being a teen. I like conflicts in a story too. That could just be all the vowels in my names though….

    Read Populazzi!

    KIM

  2. Gaaah. Must. Find. Time. To read!

    I’m all about loving the characters in a novel. If I can connect, you have me. Like you, Tawna, I don’t read a ton of YA. I’ve found that the good ones transcend the generation gap, though, and reconnect me with a part of myself I hope I never lose.

    • I feel lucky I’ve read a handful of good YA novels lately that have started to change the way I see the genre. I’m gradually growing to appreciate the genre, so thanks to Deb Elise for playing a role in that!

  3. Hey, Tawna (aka Yawns)! Connecting with the characters is key for me. That is why I loved JUST ONE OF THE GUYS that you had suggested on your blog. I was also connected with Miss Juli and Alex in MAKING WAVES, and just didn’t want the book to be over. I was wondering what heist they were going on next. I recently read JACOB WONDERBAR and if you haven’t yet, you should definitely do so. It is YA too, but I had so much fun going to outer space with them that I can’t wait to go back in Brandsford’s second book. I will be checking out this one too, for sure!

  4. Hi, Tawna! I’m with Linda–need more reading time here too–argh!!

    Characters are everything when I read–and I am always impressed by writers who can make characters behave in a truly authentic and compelling way. I just finished Alice Hoffman’s LOCAL GIRLS and she definitely has a gift for creating real characters–and I am always impressed by her use of dialog.
    Never overdone.

    I hope your POPULAZZI party continues through the weekend, Elise!!

  5. I said that to someone recently – maybe even in my own post? who knows? – that I would have loved to tell Cara exactly what (and who) she needed to do (that was a little joke JUST FOR YOU, TAWNA!), but just like I had to beat my head repeatedly into brick walls when I was a teenager and a twenty-something, Cara has to do it too, in order to figure it out.

    In any case, cheers to Elise and Populazzi!

  6. I will post regular updates on our dear Cara throughout the school year. 🙂

    LOVE THIS POST, TAWNA!

    Thanks so much to everyone for all the Populazzi love this week!!! I just saw the book on shelves for the first time today, and I geeked out. Also stalked every teen who perused the store to see if they’d stop and buy the book. Nearly shoved it into their hands. I refrained. Barely.

    Can’t wait for Monday, when I get to gush about MAKING WAVES!!!!

  7. Hey, Tawna (aka Yawns)! Connecting with the characters is key for me. That is why I loved JUST ONE OF THE GUYS that you had suggested on your blog. I was also connected with Miss Juli and Alex in MAKING WAVES, and just didn’t want the book to be over. I was wondering what heist they were going on next. I recently read JACOB WONDERBAR and if you haven’t yet, you should definitely do so. It is YA too, but I had so much fun going to outer space with them that I can’t wait to go back in Brandsford’s second book. I will be checking out this one too, for sure!

  8. Great characters are what make or break a book for me. One of my most recent favorites is THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE by Jenny Wingfield. Loved loved loved that book. 🙂

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