By Robin Palmer
Available now from Speak (Penguin)
A fairytale retelling will get my attention every time. Plus, WICKED JEALOUS has an eye-catching cover, with that shiny red apple and cotton candy pink background. Robin Palmer's update of Snow White is timely, clever, and over the top.
I thought the Los Angeles setting worked perfectly. Simone Walker begins the novel unhappy with her looks. And why not when she lives in the epicenter of Hollywood, which favors one look above all others? Hillary, her father's young girlfriend, is never likeable. But it is understandable that she would be driven to compare herself to a teenager. Simone being allergic to apples is a nice update as well.
Simone's outlook on her life changes when she accidentally discovers Zumba. She goes out to take a pottery class or something, but shows up at the wrong time. But Zumba turns out to be exactly what she needs, despite her initial doubts. The exercise helps her become more active and causes her to crave vegetables instead of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. Plus, the Zumba ladies might be older than Simone, but they're a terrific group of friends to have. The more confident Simone starts dressing in a way that suits her curves and attracts the attention of a cute classmate as well as Hillary's jealousy.
Things kick into gear when she moves in with the seven dwarfs. In this case, the dwarfs are Simone's brother and his six roommates: Wheezer, Narc, Noob, Thor, Doc, and Blush. The guys also turn out to be good friends and help Simone navigate problems like how to date popular Jason without looking like a dork. But, as time goes on, Simone realizes she might have more in common with Blush than Jason.
WICKED JEALOUS maintains an interesting balance between a realistic depiction of teen life and crazy fairytale shenanigans. There may not be any fairies involved, but there are lots of big personalities and dastardly plans. But at its heart WICKED JEALOUS is about Simone coming into herself and realizing that she can get what she wants from life if she's willing to go for it. It's a cute book, perfect for summer reading.