I started it the night before, liked it well enough to want to finish it, but didn't get so hooked that I needed to stay up late to read the whole thing. It was when I picked it up the next morning that I ran into trouble -- that was when I hit the 100-page mark, and suddenly a book about a girl who's desperate for her father's love and approval yet very cautious about guys partly because of her father's past behavior turned into a sisterly-bonding-through-burglary-with-exploration-into-family-history-and-romantic-roadtrip story. So obviously I had to read the rest of it in one go, posting be damned.
Every woman in Quinn's family, from her grandmother on down, has lived through some serious heartbreak. Men have done them wrong, again and again and again. So it makes sense that Quinn has always done the right thing, made the careful, right choices. Taken the right classes, dated the right, nice guy, regardless of the lack of toe-curling passion. She loves math. But then two things happen in quick succession—she realizes that some of her father's most prized possessions may not actually belong to him, and her sure-thing (boring) nice guy boyfriend turns out to be not so much of a sure-thing (and not so much of a nice guy).
So, one thing leads to another, and 17-year-old Quinn and her 11-year-old sister Sprout (who I didn't really buy as an 11-year-old, but I loved nonetheless) team up with their practically-a-stranger older half-sister on a secret whirlwind roadtrip to return those possessions to their rightful owners and, in doing so, to understand their father, his past, and their own family history.
I don't really understand what the cover of the book has to do with the story, but whatever. I mean, they were at a beach at one point... I guess... But there was none of that back pocket standing, and I don't know who that girl is, but she's certainly not Quinn. Quinn wouldn't stand like that. ANYWAY.
In general, I recommend that fans of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott and Joan Bauer try Deb Caletti. While I loved it, The Secret Life of Prince Charming isn't going to be for everyone. The action doesn't really kick in until a third of the way through the book, there are a LOT of characters to keep straight, and monologues about past relationships are interspersed throughout the narrative. (Kind of like the interviews in When Harry Met Sally.) At first, I tried to keep the speakers straight, but after a while I just concentrated on what the women were saying, rather than who was saying what. Which I think was the right way to go.
It was a book that made me grateful that the men in my life—my husband and our families and my friends and old boyfriends and roommates and co-workers—have been, for the most part, good guys. That, while I've certainly witnessed a whole lot of jackassery (which, considering some of what I've witnessed, is a very flip way of putting it), I haven't been on the receiving end of much of it.
I was glad that while Quinn's father may have been the King Hell Selfish Jackass, and that while there were certainly other men in the book who didn't look much better, there were plenty of truly good guy male characters with integrity and decency (and humor, brains and HELLO, PURE ANIMAL MAGNETISM) to balance that out.
It's one, I think, that will be a good crossover for adult readers, and it's one that would be worth reading a few times at different ages, and might work well in a mother-daughter book group. Because while I think it was realistic in its acceptance that some people are the way they are and that's that, and it could be used as a manual of What To Avoid in relationships (it could be paired with A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl for that), it's also ultimately a hopeful book. By the end of the book, I was confident that Quinn and Charlotte and Frances Lee will all make it through whatever they needed to make it through—at the very least of it all, they had each other. And when it comes to sisters, there's nothing little about "at the very least".
OH MY GOD, I'M TURNING INTO A HUGE SAP. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
Book source: My local library.