Hot Mess: Summer in the City by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester

Hot Mess: Summer in the City is one part Sex and the City, one part The Devil Wears Prada (minus the awesome fashion), and one part high school. Emma Freeman has broken up with her boyfriend and scored a summer internship in New York City. She and her best friend Rachel are ready to hit the city for the summer, experiencing their first taste of freedom. While the internship is less exciting than Emma had hoped, she still manages to find plenty of excitement in the form of a hot coworker and a socialite roommate. Will Emma and Rachel find the love and glamor they expect? Or will they simply max out their parents’ credit cards?

I have never lived in New York, but I liked the way this book captured the feel of being there, especially the feel of being there as a stranger and a teenager. I also liked Emma, who knew that there was more to life than her high school boyfriend, but who had to be pushed into doing something about it. She had flaws, but they were believable, and her thoughts and attitudes sounded like a high schooler rather than an adult’s version of what a high schooler sounds like. I thought the book ended on a high note, but with room for more of Emma’s story. The references in this book will date it pretty quickly, which is a major drawback. While there are some stretches in the plot (the awesome apartment and ultra-rich roommate, for one), it’s a more realistic portrait of teenage life than Gossip Girl, and Emma’s sense of humor about her adventures and herself made it a good beach book for teens who dream about life in New York City.

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