Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!
I read the first chapter, closed the book, and thought to myself, "Kristina Springer, will you be my BFF?" Or do I mean Jamie? I think I mean both because both Kristina Springer's writing style and the character she has created in Jamie are totally ME.
There are some characters I want to swap BFF charms with because they're so kick butt, or kind, or entertaining, or otherwise awesome. Jamie is that rare character I want to invite over for a sleepover party because she's so the type of friend who will finish my sentences or know exactly what I'm thinking without my having to utter a single word.
When she remarked on how a compliment about her hair from her crush (who she's too shy to actually talk to) would totally warrant a diary entry, I knew Jamie was a kindred spirit.
But what does that mean? Jamie isn't snarky like the characters I usually gravitate toward. She's sweet, kind, and innocent. She's the kind of girl who would give her mom a hug in front of the whole school.
With all that sweetness you might be thinking, "Oh gag me now" and maybe I would have too, but Jamie's first person narration is so open and genuine that I couldn't help but love and relate to her. With the over-abundance of jaded, tough-as-nails girls populating YA books lately, it was also nice to read from the perspective of someone as nice, family-oriented, and "clean" as Jamie.
You know this story...or do you?
Just Your Average Princess is pretty much just your average story. Girl with secret troubles moves from her glamorous city life to a small town. At first she's totally grossed out by the "quaintness" of it all, but she comes around and everything ends with character growth and a group hug.
Except the main character of Just Your Average Princess is not just your average main character. Jamie is not the girl who moves and adjusts and typically stars in this story (that would be her cousin). Jamie is the nice family member who the usual MC clashes with and eventually embraces.
I liked seeing the story from this new perspective. The twist in character focus helped take a been-there-done-that story and turn it into something a little different. The plot is still pretty predictable (I had Mean Cousin's secret pretty much pegged from the start), but I liked Jamie so much that I didn't mind traveling down this well-worn road with her.
Bonus points for
The two best friends who support Jamie and warmed my heart. Yummy sounding candy apples and pumpkin lattes (thank goodness I read this during Dunkin' Donuts' pumpkin season). The cute guy (sweet MG-level swoon). The emphasis on family (THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE PARENTS MATTER!)
Also points for the pumpkin farm Jamie lives on. I know, pumpkin farm?? But I was actually totally into seeing what it was like to live on a farm like Jamie and watch everything that went into that type of business.
Plus, she has a catapult that they use to chuck pumpkins at things. Tell me that's not cool?
Where did the star and a half go?
The too-quick personality change of Mean Cousin. I think I let this slide mostly because I've read so many books from the mean cousin's POV that I felt like her motivations were made more gradual and apparent than they actually were. But really, I wish it had been less of a switch flip and more of a slow turn around.
As much as I love Jamie and as much as I really did enjoy the story, I didn't connect with it in that Special Shelf way. Not much actually happened, there weren't any scenes that made it stand out for me, and I don't see it sticking with me for long. It also wasn't as funny as I was hoping it would be.
Just Your Average Princess was a totally wholesome read that I would give to both my YA and MG library girls. It wasn't fast-paced (or slow), but it was the perfect amount of pages to tell the story. Jamie was someone I immediately liked and I wish there were more characters like her in YA.
I was reminded a lot of Janette Rallison's books, with the similar moral messages, light and clean events, convincing character growth (Jamie's), and sweet romance. This was my first introduction to Kristina Springer, but I'll be sure to check out more of her books in the future.
Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key
Do you have any questions about Just Your Average Princess?
Feel free to ask in the comments!
Feel free to ask in the comments!
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