Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here

Finished Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 weed-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. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…”

Okay, so first you should know that I am absolutely obsessed with this book.  It’s incredibly clever and laugh-out-loud funny in parts, but there’s also this core of emotion that makes it this incredibly deep read.

And the other thing that makes it deep? This is a feminist novel.  Seriously, unapologetically, perfectly feminist.  And that manifests itself in a ton of different ways, but probably most profoundly in two ways: the first is how dismissive people are toward the things that girls like (in this case, the TV show Lycanthrope High, which honestly seems like something I would love).  Because it centers around a teen girl and her relationships, people dismiss it as cheesy and Scarlett internalizes that a little, apologizing for her writing and calling it just fan fiction.  You can also see her dad trying to make her more intellectual and giving her Very Important Novels to read…and they are, of course, written by men.

And the second is how teen girls treat each other.

It’s human nature to classify ourselves in relation to other people, and most of the time we either make ourselves better than they are or worse than they are (or, sometimes, both).  Scarlett has a tendency to treat Ashley (her best friend’s sister) like a complete idiot because she’s pretty and popular.  As a reader, I went along with it, because I was in Scarlett’s head.  During a fairly pivotal scene, we learn that Ashley’s grades are actually better than Scarlett’s.  It felt like a bit of a revelation because I was making the exact same assumptions that Scarlett was.

And this is all probably making it sound like this is a preachy novel or something kind of annoying about sisterhood, right?  And it’s not.  You don’t even really have to focus on it as a feminist novel (though you should, because “feminist” is not a bad word) to enjoy it.

I just need Anna Breslaw to release another book, like, tomorrow.  I’m making her a must-buy author.

Highly recommended.

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