Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Martin lives in and helps operate a seen-better-days boutique hotel in Manhattan with her parents and three siblings: aspiring actor/big brother Spencer, sacrificial older sister Lola, and bratty little sister Marlene. Ever since Marlene had to be hospitalized for cancer a few years ago, the family’s finances have been depleted to the point where the Martins are barely keeping their feather dusters above water in the competitive New York City hotel business. Now each Martin has to pitch in to keep the drowning Hopewell hotel afloat, and while Scarlettt doesn’t mind doing her share, she wishes her upcoming summer could be about more than changing sheets and airing curtains. Enter Mrs. Amberson, a rich, aging diva with loads of attitude and connections. She books a room in the Hopewell for the summer with the intention of writing her autobiography and reliving the halcyon days of her storied youth, and quickly hires Scarlett as both audience and assistant. Having Mrs. A around will certainly liven up Scarlett’s weak-ass summer. But when the past-her-prime starlet starts dishing out unwanted advice about Scarlett’s barely-there love life, while simultaneously taking and making over Spencer’s struggling Shakespeare company, Scarlett realizes that Mrs. A may be way more than what the doctor ordered for her summertime blues. This madcap romantic comedy is my new favorite Maureen Johnson title. Like the classic movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Philadelphia Story, it is full of witty repartee and blithe banter, especially between Scarlett and her beloved brother Spencer. (Methinks it was inspired in part by some of the playful word jousting that goes on in real life between Maureen and her good friend, fellow YA author John Green. Want to see some of it? Click here.) In addition, Johnson includes several sections from “guidebooks” about the imaginary Hopewell that lets readers know a bit about it’s glorious past, which read like love odes to some of the great NYC historical hotels (like the real Algonquin, which has quite a literary legacy) Whether you’re looking for a romantic romp, brilliant back-and-forth dialogue, or just a great New York story, Suite Scarlett is the book for you! (and how interesting that the cover model looks remarkably like another Scarlett : planned? or coincidence?) Reservations can be made at any library or bookstore near you.
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson