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My Perfect Life by Dyan
Sheldon is the sequel to Confessions
of a Teenage Drama Queen, but
unfortunately it does not have the zip, vitality, or grit of the original
story. The characters are the same, Lola Cep, the Drama Queen, Ella Gerard, her
best friend and foil, Carla Santini, "idol of idiot worshippers", Sam
Creek, resident libertine, and an assortment of teen Barbis, geeks, and freaks.
It is also told in first person, but the narrator in My Perfect Life is
not Lola, but is her best friend, Ella. This creates a problem for fans of Confessions
because the readers expect the words are the words of Lola as they were in the
first novel. They expect it and are disappointed because they have come to see
their favorite teens from a consistent point of view. The readers need to
change their perspective before they can crawl inside the character of Ella.
And to tell the truth, she's not as interesting as Lola.
The conflict in this sequel is
between Ella Gerard and Carla Santini with Ella being the pawn of Lola's
ambition. Carla Santini is running for president of the student body, and Lola
has decided since she herself can't run because of a technicality, she will
champion Ella as the next best thing. The problem is that Ella doesn't want the
office, nor can she even imagine herself beating Carla at anything. It is bad
enough that Lola wants her to enter into this political and social fray, but
Ella's Stepford Wife mother expects her to help Carla win! If the plot
is starting to sound a little like an episode of "I Love Lucy", with
Lola being Lucy Ricardo and Ella being Ethel Mertz, you aren't far from wrong. Lola
even manages to the astonishment of the entire school to drag the anti-government
Sam Creek onto the ticket as vice presidential running mate without either
his permission or knowledge. He finds out about his candidacy the same way the
rest of the school does, at the principal's announcement of the running slate.
Sheldon's style and vocabulary in
most of the novel are still right on, but there are too many "I have to
explain this to you in case you didn't read the first installment" asides,
like the extended explanation of the Sidhartha incident used to justify to My
Perfect Life readers why Lola lacks credibility. "The Sidhartha
incident happened around the time of the school play. Because she was so
furious at losing the lead in Pygmalion to Lola, Carla made a big deal
about being invited to Sidhartha's farewell concert and the party after it. Sidhartha
was our favorite band. Not one to ignore an impossible challenge, Lola
immediately announced that she and I had been invited, too. Everyone knew Lola
was lying. Which was why Carla Santini was able to convince everyone that we
hadn't been at the party, when in fact we were." This condensed précis of
Confessions may be necessary to the uninformed, but its inclusion and
others like it give the flow of this novel bumpy interruptions that are almost
condescending to the readers. The author might have avoided this if she had
continued the story in Lola's voice instead of Ella's which would have kept the
readers in their comfort zone of what they expected in My Perfect Life.
That being said, there is still
enough richness to Sheldon's writing to recommend My Perfect Life to
teen girls who have wanted to hear more about Lucy's, I mean Lola's, antics in "Deadwood".
I just can't help but wonder, "What if...? What if...? What if...?
Lola, of course, is never bothered
by the what-if question."
© 2005 Lorraine
Lorraine Rice provides the
following information about herself.
- Adjunct Professor of English and ESL
at Suffolk Community College, NY for 16 years.
- Poet and Artist My web page: http://hometown.aol.com/euterpel66/myhomepage/poetry.html
- Widow and mother of three adult
children and one granddaughter.
- BA St. John's University, Jamaica NY
- MA SUNY at Stony Brook, NY
- Like to explore: the Internet,
evolutionary-psychology, countries, books, people, outdoors, flea markets,
and old roads.
- Like to create: portraits, gardens,
found-object sculpture, lists, poems, and friendships.
- Like to travel: to most of US States,
Canada, Bermuda, England, Brazil, China, and Mexico.
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