Language in ‘The Princesses of Iowa’ could come as a royal shock

What did you do on your summer vacation?

It almost seems hard to remember that far, doesn’t it? Summer’s been over for months, and while it was good and you had fun – hanging with friends, finding a job so you had some cash, maybe taking a little trip – you’ve moved on.

Yep, it was fine for you but in the new audiobook "The Princesses of Iowa " by M. Molly Backes (performed by Shelby Lewis), a high school senior thinks last summer – and the months leading up to it – are just best forgotten.

Paige Sheridan spent summer before senior year in Paris, France. And it sucked.

It sucked, since she was stuck there being an au pair for no pay and hating her life because her mother thought it best if Paige disappeared for awhile. Maybe, her mother figured, if Paige wasn’t around, people in Willow Grove might forget about The Accident.

But nobody was in a forgetting mood because Paige’s BFF Lacey had gotten hurt in The Accident, and she was still using a cane to walk. Problem was, nobody told Paige about it until she was home. Nobody told her that her boyfriend, Jake, had been giving Lacey all kinds of support all summer, either.

But that was beside the point. Jake loved Paige. They were the perfect couple, and that would be proven at Homecoming.

For her entire life, Paige had prepared for Homecoming. She couldn’t begin to count the times she and Lacey and Nikki, her other BFF, dreamed of being on Homecoming Court. They’d planned for the day when they’d be crowned in front of the whole school. It was what Iowa girls did. It was what Paige wanted.

Wasn’t it?

 The thing was, she wasn’t sure anymore because everything changed while she was gone. Her friends weren’t the same, Jake was different, her sister had gone Goth, and her mother was weird. The only good change was the new creative writing teacher, who really taught Paige to think in brand-new ways.

Although, there were things she’d just as soon never think about again

As I was listening to "The Princesses of Iowa," I wasn’t sure I liked what I was hearing. The story was very good, but it was pretty liberally laced with profanity and sexual slurs, and that surprised me.

And then I began to realize where the author was taking things. 

Yes, there’s some language in this book that might raise parental eyebrows, but let’s be honest: it’s nothing teens haven’t heard already. It’s common, and that ends up being part of this story – which I ultimately thought was very well done. This book perfectly portrays small-town life, the characters aren’t fakey, the scenarios are easily embraced, and despite the OMG moments, it’s really quite satisfying.

Though this audiobook is meant for teens (more specifically, girls)14 to 17, I think it’s most appropriate for the upper part of that. "The Princesses of Iowa" is a great book, but bits of it could come as a royal shock. 

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s children’s book reviews weekly.

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