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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


****All-American Girl

by Meg Cabot

Reviewed October 15, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#1, Young Adult Contemporary Novels)
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2002.  247 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF CAB).

I found All-American Girl completely delightful.  Meg Cabot took what was good about The Princess Diaries, took out the crudeness, and made something even better.

Samantha Davis starts out the book in trouble.  Instead of paying attention in German class, she’s been drawing pictures of classmates with celebrities, making a little income on the side.  When her older sister helps her parents discover the reason for Sam’s poor German grades, they decide to let the punishment fit the crime and enroll her in art lessons.

I like the way the author wove what Sam learns from art class throughout the plot of the book.  At first, Sam is offended because the teacher doesn’t appreciate Sam’s way of being creative.  She wants Sam to learn how to paint what she sees before she paints what she doesn’t see.  In rebellion, Sam skips the next class.  The results are drastic.

While Sam is outside art class a little early, waiting for her housekeeper, pretending she has been in class, she sees the President get out of his motorcade and go into Capitol Cookies.  Next, she sees the guy next to her pull out a gun and point it at the President coming out of the store.  She jumps on the guy, saves the President and becomes a national hero.  Havoc ensues, and her life changes completely.

At first, I thought that Sam as narrator sounded identical to Mia Thermopolis, the narrator of The Princess Diaries series.  Fortunately, she’s not as crude—I’d be quicker to give this book to a young girl than I would the others.  At first, the other characters seem similar, too.  However, there’s a nice departure in the two guys in Sam’s life.

Jack, Sam’s sister’s boyfriend, whom she has long been in love with herself, is a rebel and an artist.  Some quirky details about Jack are well-drawn.  The President’s son, a new and confusing person in Sam’s life, is a delightfully drawn character.  We can see and understand Sam’s confusion as she deals with these two guys in her life, and how David is upsetting her ideas of who she is in love with.  Meg Cabot perfectly captures the tension of falling in love.  We see it clearly, even when Sam can’t, and that seems realistic, too.

Meg Cabot is getting better and better.  This book is light and fun, and will get you smiling and reliving what it was like to fall in love the first time.  A lot of fun. 

Reader comment:  Alice gives the book Four Stars, with the comment, "I just loved it!!"

Reviews of other books by Meg Cabot:
Princess in the Spotlight
Princess in Love
Princess in Waiting
Princess in Pink
Princess Lessons

For Adults:
The Boy Next Door
Size 12 Is Not Fat
Every Boy's Got One

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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