Before I begin my review, I have a few confessions of my own.
1. I don’t drink coffee, but I love the smell of it (YAY to scratch and sniff cover on this book).
2. I love Shakespeare’s play "Much Ado About Nothing" (because Robert Sean Leonard was in the 1993 movie version and I love him on House and especially in Dead Poets Society) so I was super excited that Jody used the play as an inspiration for the book.
3. I won this book in a contest on Reviewer X’s blog (read her review of it here) and Jody sent me a signed copy AND a homemade personalized bookmark with jewels on it. How cool is that?! Now go check out her website: www.jodygehrman.com
A while back, I had the pleasure of hearing author Markus Zusak (The Book Thief) do a reading and talk about writing. He said that when he writes, he aims to put at least one jewel on each page – whether it’s a clever turn of phrase, a hard-hitting character insight, or perhaps a fun literary reference. Well, before I say anything else about “Confessions”, I have to say that it is fitting that Jody uses jewels to personalize her book signings, because the novel has so many “jewel” moments and the prose is so polished, it positively sparkles.
So anyway, the basic plot is this: Geena has high hopes for her summer – she’ll work at Triple Shot Betty coffee shack with her best friend Amber and her cousin Hero (who haven’t yet met, but Geena’s sure they’ll love each other) and they’ll all have tons of girl fun all summer long. But Geena’s hopes are dashed when Hero (chaste and conservative like her namesake in “Much ado”) and Amber (brash and bawdy like Margaret in “Much ado”) hate each other at first sight and a few cute guys are thrown into the mix, not all of them with the best intensions.
If you know anything about “Much ado” you’ll recognize Geena as the Beatrice character, feisty, cynical, witty and sharp. She’s a skater chick gunning to be valedictorian, and she won’t let anyone get in her way, especially not Ben (the Benedick character), a whip smart, competitive but sweet (and HOT) cyclist classmate. She has a reputation as a guy hater, so when Hero falls in love with Italian import Claudio, who is doing an internship at a winery (it’s set in Sonoma, CA so everyone, even the under-aged, likes to dabble in the “vino”), her overprotective father says she can’t date unless Geena goes with her (shades of “Taming of the Shrew” perhaps?).
The plot continues along, similar to that of “Much ado” with plenty of intrigue and high jinks, but with a fun feminist revenge element as a climax. The message here is clear – stand up for yourself, stand up for your friends and don’t let scummy guys ruin your reputation.
Read this for the modern spin on “Much ado”, read this for its character driven narrative, read this for the swoon-worthy Claudio (I love foreign guys) and Ben and the sweetest romance scenes I’ve encountered in awhile, read this for the authentic dialogue and friendships, read this for all the “jewels” you’ll find sprinkled generously throughout, and most of all read this as soon as you can get your hands on it.