Suite Scarlett -- Maureen Johnson
Scarlett Martin's family owns the Hopewell, an Art Deco hotel on the Upper East Side of New York City. Before you assume that that life in a hotel is all fun and games, the narrator lets you know that it is quite the contrary:
Perhaps it sounds like a wonderful thing to be born and raised in a small hotel in New York City. Lots of things sound fun until they are subjected to closer inspection. If you lived on a cruise ship, for example, you would have to do the Macarena every night of your life. Think about that.
On their fifteenth birthday, the Martin kids (Spencer, 19, aspiring actor and culinary school-avoider; Lola, 18, beautiful, sedate and dating a blue blood; Scarlett, just 15, and our heroine; Marlene, 11, difficult, difficult and more difficult) are given the key to -- and the responsibility of caring for -- one of the suites in the hotel. On Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she is given the key to the Empire Suite. On that very same day, Mrs. Amberson moves into the Empire Suite, and Scarlett is suddenly the gopher/maid/personal assistant to a very wealthy, very dramatic, very nosy, very energetic (and a plethora of other 'verys') woman.
Suite Scarlett is fun times a bazillion. While Scarlett has her doubts about the fun factor of living in a hotel, reading about people living in a hotel very definitely rates high on the scale. (And reading a book by Maureen Johnson about people living in a hotel -- well, that rates even higher!) It made me laugh out loud, I loved Spencer and his talent for slapstick, the characters are hugely likable, it wasn't predictable, and again, it's fun, fun, fun.
Also: I'm very happy that whoever designed the cover actually used details from the book (Scarlett's untamable hair, the bright red lipstick, the black dress, sitting at the front desk).
Highly recommended for fans of Maureen Johnson's other books, for those who are into theater, for those who yearn for the Big City and for those who like light, funny YA. As I finished the book, it occurred to me that I'd like to read more about the characters -- and hooray! I'll be able to, because it's the first in a series. I am SO looking forward to the next installment.
Oh, and I have to admit: I got a huge kick out of the complimentary Suite Dreams sleep mask that came with my review copy, and I've been wearing it as a headband when we watch movies. (I'm VERY serious about my movie viewing.) So, Maureen Johnson, you should know that Josh is holding you personally responsible for pushing me a tiny bit closer to the Crazy Librarian line. (According to him, that's a good thing. He's been working to turn me into a Crazy Librarian for years now. So, from Josh: Yay, You!)