Sunday, June 12, 2016

little black dresses, little white lies: stardust arc reviews

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies
Laura Stampler



Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick's backyard can one girl take? That's why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper's totally in.

There's just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn't have a lot of - or, really, any - dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend's experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job...right?

From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City--and as the writer of her own destiny.

 Firstly, thanks to netgalley and simon pulse for letting me read an arc of this book! I sincerely appreciate it :) This book was so much fun! I really enjoyed getting to know Harper, her best friend Kristina, and the other Shift interns. I loved the fact that a lot of this is about girl power, and there are some really great moments of social commentary on our clicky and obsessive online culture. In this book, there are elements of The Devil Wears Prada, 13 Going On 30, Mean Girls, and Gossip Girl, all rolled into one and played over a BeyoncĂ© soundtrack, and it was a ton of fun to read. I mean, there was also that inevitable feeling that Harper was going to mess up eventually, and that we were speeding down the tracks to disaster, but that just added to the fun of it. What's better than a glamorous summer internship in New York? 

I really identified with Harper, at least in the beginning. She's bookwormy, she wants to be a writer more than anything, and she goes for what she wants, even if she looks ridiculous. In the beginning of this book, Harper gets word that she will be the last minute replacement for another girl, thereby rewarding her with the internship of her dreams: for Shift magazine in New York City. (think Seventeen, but, like, edgier) Harper giddily packs her bags and makes her way cross-country, to the Big Apple. But when she gets there, she finds that she is woefully unprepared for what awaits her. First, she doesn't hit it off with the other interns, leaving her lonely and out of the loop. Secondly, she is supposed to be writing a dating blog for the magazine, but Harper doesn't have any dating experience at all, and, in fact, misappropriated an embarrassing story that happened to her best friend just to get the internship. And third, New York is a whole new, glamorous world, and Harper doesn't have the street skills or the wardrobe to conquer it. So, it becomes up to Harper to get her proverbial s*** together and turn her summer around.

Harper goes through quite a change in this novel, and not all of it is good. (not "bad" in that the writing is bad– "bad" in that Harper makes some poor decisions and does some not-so-nice things. but, hey, don't we all? and these mistakes are crucial to her realizing who she wants to be) I think Harper is a perfect example of an impressionable person getting sucked into a certain culture and then being in way over their heads before they even realize in. In pursuit of dating stories, and so she can properly do her job as dating blogger, Harper throws herself into Manhattan society, and in the process, becomes bolder, more confident, and also a little bit mean. Imagine Anne Hathaway from The Devil Wears Prada, except for instead of being mean to her boyfriend, Harper kind of leaves her best friend in the dust. But all of that stuff doesn't really come to a head until the end, and I'm getting ahead of myself. Harper is a great writer, and she shows that she is willing to do what it takes to be a journalist, and I really admired her growth from a shy person into someone who could stand up for herself. Aside from those moments where she was being a sort of bad friend, I really enjoyed her character and the journey that she took. 

In fact, I loved all of the girls in this book. (except McKayla, Shift's terrifying editor) Harper was great, obviously, and i loved her best friend Kristina even more. They just seemed like best friends in the way that they interacted, and even when harper was being kind of horrid, Kristina stood by her side, like a true bestie. I also loved all of the other Shift interns, especially Gigi. I thought it was cool that they were all so different, but they actually managed to get along. From sorority darling, feminist, beauty guru Brie to health nut Abigail to gay, serious, caring Sunni, to worldly and cultured Gigi. I loved the way they banded together, and even though they were supposed to all be competing, that didn't stop them from becoming really close over the course of the summer. Also, Aunt Vee, who is a washed up society darling and also Harper's guardian for the summer, was super fun and supportive. I just was having the best time reading about this all-girl support squad that was surrounding Harper in New York and in her hometown. Absolutely loved that aspect. 

Of course, boys are present. Harper being the dating blogger and everything, she kind of tries her luck at a bunch of different ways of dating and getting the attention of boys. I really ended up loving Ben, and Carter was okay at first, too. But the real stars of this book are the ladies, and I was really glad that the boys didn't overshadow the really important relationships that were going on here. And I didn't feel 100% attached to any of the males in this story, though Ben was my favorite, and I think that it isn't a big deal, because they weren't the main point. The main point was for Harper to find her way and realize things about herself. 

I really liked the way that Laura Stampler portrayed the fast-paced world of online journalism. The idea that content doesn't matter, only the amount of clicks do, is something that is becoming more and more prevalent in our online community. And sometimes that isn't a bad thing, but it can be when people are throwing each other under the bus just for the sake of a shocking or viral article. In the age of Damn Daniel and Chewbacca Woman, Stampler seems to take an in-depth look at what goes into making these stories as popular as they are. I really loved her social commentary, though it didn't take over the story, it was definitely present. 

Little Back Dresses, Little White Lies is about a small town girl making her way in New York City, making friends, navigating the social and dating scenes, and figuring out who she is. I thought it was smart and funny and a total blast to read, and it made me want to join the Shift girl gang (even though, no. I couldn't work there). Definitely a fun contemporary :) 


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