Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Review: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.
The story premise is good: History Geek/Junior Fashionista from Minnesota scores a summer job as a historical interpreter at an eighteenth-century historical seaside village in Maine, helps solve a high-profile ghost mystery, and falls for the wrong guy before wising up and realizing Mr. Right was in front of her all the time. Along the way she has to learn how to deal with the scorn of experienced interpreters who don't think she fits the mold, how to be an effective teacher and role model, and she has to learn what's important to value in herself and in others.
For the most part I thought this book was pretty over-the-top. I just thought a lot of the actions and reactions and situations were really exaggerated. I find it very hard to believe that a museum summer intern program would allow an 18-year-old boy and an underage girl to cohabitate. I also don't think that same museum would dress an underage girl in scanty clothes to pose for pictures at a party where rampant underage drinking is taking place, either. In addition, the requisite gay friend and cutesy, lisping children got on my nerves. And I found the resolution of the ghost story to be pretty hokey, too.
So by now you may be wondering what I did like! In spite of all my complaints, I was hooked enough that I had to keep reading to see how the story ended, and the end was actually really good. Very satisfying and resonant. And though Libby is outspoken and can be fairly rude, (even though she despises rudeness in others), she's actually pretty funny. Laugh-out-loud funny at times. It's got some pretty meaningful messages about judging people, looking beneath the surface, and doing the right thing, and this gets a thumbs up for being bright and different in today's YA scene. I enjoyed the pop culture references, particularly Scooby-Doo and Star Wars, and I think the young adult audience will have fun with this story, and hopefully come away thinking history is cool, too.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
*Please Note: This title will be published May 8, 2012, and this review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.