What’s it about?
The Princesses of Iowa is about teenagers, growing up. Isn’t that the core of most YA? Paige, our main character, is a princess, has always been a princess, and if her parents and friends have their way, will always be a princess. She will always look perfect and she will always get straight As. She will marry her similarly perfect boyfriend – after they finish college of course – and they will go on living perfectly perfect lives. Except of course that’s not how life works. There’s a car accident before the book even starts; The Princesses of Iowa deals with the fallout. One of the princesses ends up with a permanent limp, another becomes a bit of a crusader, and our Paige somehow manages to escape almost all the consequences. Except that she’s not happy and she doesn’t see what everyone else has been going through. You really don’t like her – and I don’t think you’re supposed to – for most of the book. But there is character growth at the end, and she does grow up and figure things out.
Why should you read it?
It’s a lovely little meditation on what growing up means. It’s not gaining power or responsibilities or being the most popular. It’s knowing who you are and how your actions affect other people. Growing up is an ongoing process. It never finishes. We’re always changing and learning more about ourselves and the people around us. I think that’s why well-written YA appeals to all ages – these are changes we all go through, at one point or another. Sometimes, it’s nice to reflect on it.