Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Penguin Young Readers Group on April 19th 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Humorous Stories, Love & Romance, Social Themes, Young Adult
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett's stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
If you’re looking for something that will make you laugh… something you won’t be able to put down, you’re going to want to grab Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here.
This had been one of my most anticipated reads this Spring and I was so excited when it showed up on my doorstep! I honestly haven’t laughed so much while reading a book in quite a while.
Scarlett’s life revolves for the most part, around the online community and friendships she’s cultivated revolving around her favorite TV show, where she’s a well-known fanfiction writer. Believe me, I can completely understand this and I think that really helped me connect so well with Scarlett as a character. Add to this, that she’s totally awkward in real life… with only her best friend, Avery and her seventy-three year old neighbor, the only real life friends she has.
When the TV show she loves gets cancelled and the boy she’s crushed on for years, is somehow dating her nemesis she tries to cope in the only way she knows, unwittingly exposing her real feelings about the people she deals with at school every day.
I’m going to start with the thing that I didn’t love as much… the fanfiction story within the story just didn’t work for me. The idea of it was okay, the story itself didn’t really work for me. It was just clunky and weird and I found myself skimming through parts of it to get back to Scarlett’s real life story. It also reminded me of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell in the way that it was presented and executed, but where that story really grabbed me, this one just didn’t.
Honestly, that’s the only reason I didn’t give this story a 5 star rating.
That leaves everything else that I loved about it! Let’s start with Scarlett. I adored her… she’s snarky, her humor is dry, she’s judgmental, and she just may be my spirit animal. Here’s her take on Avery’s sister:
“If they had been fetal twins, Ashley definitely would’ve consumed Avery for nutrients, and all that’d be left of Ave would be a tumor with a few teeth in it.”
I mentioned Scarlett’s relationship with her neighbor earlier, and I have to admit that it was probably my favorite one in this story. I loved the mentorship she provided her, but most of all I loved that even though she appeared somewhat irresponsible, she was ultimately an amazing role model and excellent parental type figure for Scarlett to connect to. What you’ll quickly learn is that Scarlett doesn’t have parents that are really just there for her. Her relationship with her mom seems to be more like that of sisters, though I really did love the evolution of their relationship. I also really loved seeing her recognize her strengths and really grab hold of this dream of becoming a writer that she never really saw as a reality for herself.
There is a bit of a romance here… which even though I normally really enjoy more of a ‘love story’ I think I liked that that wasn’t really what the story was about here. Sure, this makes up some of the plot, but it’s not the focus, instead focusing on the many relationships that Scarlett has to traverse throughout the story.
Like I said, definitely a fun story, that manages to address some serious topics without being heavy and overly dramatic. I hope we’ll see more from Anna Breslaw in the same vein as this story because I truly enjoyed Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here.
Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.