Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Title: Suite Scarlett
Author: Maureen Johnson
Page Count: 353
Summary: Scarlett has grown up in a most unusual way.

Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen-year-old brother, Spencer, is an out-of-work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen-year-old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Eleven-year-old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past.

When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco Hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both the room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer’s career to save, Lola’s love life to navigate around, and Marlene’s prying eyes everywhere, things won’t be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception.

The show, as they say, must always go on… (Summary from inside flap)

Review: First of all, may I say that I love Maureen Johnson? I kept stumbling across her books and not noticing the name until recently, after I read Girl at Sea. She is hilarious. And she’s totally cute!

But anyway, onto the book!

I loved Suite Scarlett from the very beginning. Johnson’s writing is, as I said, hilarious, but also very true to life. She doesn’t over describe things or pad her paragraphs with cliches. She writes the way I aspire to, almost as if you’re just talking. Her characters are almost so real that they jump off the page; my favorite was definitely Spencer, the older brother unemployed actor. He and Scarlett have a connection that I wish I had with my siblings and it makes sense: they formed a bond when their little sister, Marlene, was in the hospital.

Marlene is also an exceptional character: she had cancer when she was younger, so her parents don’t boss her around and she acts like a spoiled brat because she can do whatever she wants. I loved the fact that she was like that. It seemed so real to me.

The love story was cute and I loved that it wasn’t the entire point of the story; there’s obviously more to Scarlett’s life, which is how it is in reality. And Eric seemed very true-to-life, although I thought she should’ve dropped him at the end.

Overall, I loved Suite Scarlett. However, it doesn’t get a 5 star rating because of one thing that just niggled at my brain the entire time: the story didn’t seem… finished. It felt like just an episode in Scarlett’s crazy life, not something that totally changed as a person. Sure, there was character development, but it didn’t seem SO significant. I know that there’s a sequel coming out, so that might be why I feel like her story isn’t over.

Rating: 4.5/5

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