Franny's supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can't blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . . Franny Pearson never dreamed she'd be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she's not, exactly. She's working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady. When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can't hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected.
The Trouble With FlirtingFeatured
What left me wanting more: There were a lot of characters and a lot of relationships going on in this book. At times, it was difficult to keep up with. I would have liked some more closure at the end for some of the characters. All of a sudden the book was over and I would have liked to know how certain relationships carried on or didn't.
Final verdict: I enjoyed this book but it didn't pack the big punch that I was hoping for. If you are a fan of contemporary romance, this one is worth checking out.
Awwww, you guys, this is one of those times where I had super low expectations, because of ideas in my head. I expected this to be super silly, more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. Well, you know what, there is zero guilt in the pleasure I found in The Trouble with Flirting. LaZebnik's loose Mansfield Park adaptation achieves a real teen feel, and is sweet and funny on top of that.
First, I have to talk about the adaptation, being the Jane Austen fangirl that I am. Now, for all that I love Dear Jane, Mansfield Park is a hot mess. Fanny Price is one of the most boring, passive heroines in fiction, the plot line is way too melodramatic with all of the couple-swapping and infidelity, and, in the end, Fanny marries her cousin. So, as you may imagine, I was a bit hesitant to buy into an adaptation for teens. However, I was totally game, because, if LaZebnik botched it, I wasn't going to be offended like I would be with Austen's other novels.
LaZebnik not only does Mansfield Park justice; she greatly improves on it. Now, I'm not going to argue that LaZebnik's writing is more likely to withstand the test of time, but her characters have so much more life and more appeal. I'm really impressed with the way LaZebnik has arranged Mansfield Park into such a different setting, a summer camp for theater students at Mansfield College. She stays true to the romantic entanglements that are at the heart of Mansfield Park, the petty jealousies, the rampant flirting, and the betrayals.
Now, I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't, but I do have to make vague reference to my very favorite aspect of her modern retelling. LaZebnik starts out with all of the characters very true to their Austenite predecessors, but, as the novel progresses, she brings out the real people underneath the facades. I find this doubly delightful, both because it adds depths to the cast of Mansfield Park and because it's a reference to Jane Austen's most popular novel, originally titled First Impressions. The Trouble with Flirting is very much a study in not judging people too harshly off of first impressions, of the importance of looking more deeply into someone's behavior.
As the cover suggests, The Trouble with Flirting does focus almost entirely on romance. There are some sweet friendships, but not much time is spent on those. If you're not all about the romance, this will probably not be your thing. LaZebnik does a great job with the romance, though, creating real bonds between characters, staying away from instalove, and looking into the motivations for characters' behavior.
Also wonderful is how sex-positive The Trouble with Flirting is. Now, it's not graphic, and, actually, I'm not sure if any of them did have sex, but they might have. Franny could easily have been judgmental of Marie, a girl cheating on her boyfriend, or at least trying to, but there's no condemnation in her. Is she thrilled about it? No, but she isn't rude either. She has nothing bad to say about the switching from relationship to relationship that the kids are doing at camp. In fact, she thinks it's very natural, and has no problem with people hooking up, even if it's just for fun. Even better, despite the competition for the small crop of straight guys at the theater camp, the girls remain minimally catty throughout.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The one thing that left me a bit disappointed is the lack of theater. Yes, there are some scenes devoted to theater, but it receives minimal screen time. I would have liked the importance of acting in their lives to be a little more obvious. The acting serves solely as a backdrop to the flirting and as yet another reference to Mansfield Park, in which the play performed did serve as an excuse for flagrant flirting.
The Final Verdict:
LaZebnik's retelling of The Trouble with Flirting charmed me utterly, and does a brilliant job retelling Jane Austen's stodgiest novel for a young adult audience. This is a wonderful read if you're looking for something light-hearted, funny, and uplifting.
What I liked: This story is filled with a cast of characters who are entertaining and enjoyable but Harry Cartwright stole the show in my opinion. He is hilarious and his interactions with Franny were my favorite parts. All of these characters learn that flirting may seem harmless but isn't without consequences especially when someone's feelings get hurt. (Or a lot of kissing is involved.*) Like any good contemporary romance, a few will have their hearts broken but things get resolved by book's end, even if it's not the way one expected.
What left me wanting: Aunt Amelia is a little odd but she gives Franny a lot of freedom for a teenager and there were many times I felt Franny's disrespect was unnecessary. *The make-out scenes were mild, however, there are a LOT of make-out scenes. (Parents of younger teen readers may have an issue with this.) A small part of me felt like this story wasn't quite finished. I wanted to know what happened after the summer was over, for instance, did the boy who stole Franny's heart keep his word? Did she continue performing and what was the deal with Aunt Amelia anyway?
"Your body is fine now, but give it twenty, thirty years. Gravity and time do horrible things to a woman."
He pulls his hand away. "You've hurt my feelings," he says with a mock sniff. "All that racist talk---"
"Racist? I'm pretty sure you're not using that word right."
"Wealthist, then." He curls up in a fetal position against the sofa arm. "Whatever. I'm all bitter and unhappy and worked up now, thanks to you."
Final verdict: The Trouble With Flirting is a fast read, laced with humor that packs a romantic punch.
Franny has wanted nothing more than to attend the summer drama camp. She is finally going to get her wish just not in the way she had hoped. She will be working this summer for her aunt helping to design the costumes. I really loved Franny she is so sarcastic and witty. She realizes that her crush Alex is attending the camp and she can't wait to spend time with him. But Harry the resident flirt starts paying a lot of attention to Franny. I loved Harry and Franny's relationship. They had this really friendly, flirty banter back and forth with each other. It was your typical high school flirting between these two, teasing and all. There is a bit of a love triangle between Alex, Franny and Harry which was not over done. I really liked the interactions between these three characters. I was so happy that Franny came to her senses and picked the guy who was right for her.
Review originally posted on my blog:http://www.ramblingsofabooknerd.com/2013/03/review-trouble-with-flirting-by-claire.html
About a year and a half ago, I reviewed Claire's YA debut, Epic Fail, and LOVED it (read my full review HERE). Claire has several other Chick Lit titles under her belt, as well as some non-fiction titles dealing with Autism (check out her Goodreads profile HERE), but I believe that YA is her forte; She has a real knack for understanding the minds of the characters she writes, as well as those of her target audience. Plus, I love that her YA novels have been loose retellings of Jane Austen novels, because I believe that they will open the minds of a new generation to reading those dusty, old, WONDERFUL books!
So, The Trouble With Flirting? All I can say is that I adored it. (Actually, that isn't ALL I can say, but it sounded good.) I just happened to be sick the day after I received it in the mail *coughs*, and read it straight through in one sitting! It is a loosely based, modern retelling of Mansfield Park, and I thought it was near perfect. Mansfield Park isn't my favorite of Jane Austen's books, nor is it my least favorite; Actually it falls right in the middle for me. That meant one very important thing for me while reading The Trouble With Flirting... I had an open mind to the story, because I didn't feel a tremendous urge to compare and nitpick, as it pertained to the original, because this story is very loosely based on the original, and if it had been, say, Emma, I may not have been so okay with liberties. That said, I am not going to do a play-by-play comparison. I'm just going to tell you the reasons I loved it.
Obviously, I was drawn to it because it's a modern retelling, so the story was big for me. I loved it. I loved that the protagonist, Franny, was at this summer theater camp, not as an actress as she would have liked to have been, but as an assistant to the costume designer, her spinster aunt. You see, Franny's family can't afford to send her to college, let alone an expensive summer camp, so she is spending her summer earning money to help fund her education. When Franny arrives at the Mansfield Summer Theater Program, she runs into her old friend from middle school, Julia Braverman. This is when she finds out that Julia's brother, Alex, is also there; Alex, Franny's forever-crush, and the first boy she ever had it bad for... As Franny catches up with Julia and Alex, she meets other students and begins to build an awkward social life (after all, she is "the help", and these teens are all rich, beautiful, and sophisticated). Enter Harry Cartwright, a roguish ladies man, who has the eye of every girl at Mansfield, except Franny, who is firmly pining for the attached Alex. Well, of course, that means Harry sets his sights on the one he can't have, Franny... The story continues in ways that I wouldn't have expected it to, and it left me feeling very satisfied in the end. Honestly, if you had asked me at the beginning, I would have said that, without a doubt, I knew how it would end, and it makes me happy to know that I would have been dead wrong.
Something else I really loved about this book were the characters and character development Claire went out of her way to show us that people aren't always who they appear to be on the surface, and that everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt. I became so caught up in the details of each character, that I found myself thinking of them as friends. The interpersonal relationships between the characters would not have been so key had the characters themselves not been developed so well. Of course, I loved Franny. She was just a great girl. Sure she was insecure and made a few poor choices, but she always owned up to them, and tried to fix any damage she may have caused. Aunt Amelia really surprised me a lot, as did Isabella, and the boys. I only had one character pegged from the beginning, and that was Marie; She was pretty much the very necessary, if cliche, romantic antagonist.
Like I said before, I found this book to be near perfection. It was light, sweet, and so upbeat, I couldn't help but close it with a ginormous smile on my face. It was like the feeling you have when you've just finished an airy, delectable pastry; Satisfied, yet craving more. That is exactly how I feel about Claire's writing, and I can't wait to read what she has coming next!