About the Book:
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ▪ Blogger ▪ Goodreads
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon ▪ Barnes & Noble ▪ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.
Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.
But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal. – Goodreads
Review: Some readers will probably have reservations about the scope of this story, its morals or by proxy its characters, however this was actually one of the cutest pieces of teen fiction I’ve run across – and I will confess due to personal preferences, I’m a tough sell when it comes to this genre, so most of the time I merely live by the adage: it’s me, not the book. The book kicks off introducing us to its sassy heroine, Julep Dupree, a student who attends a swanky high school and manages to make extra cash by taking on jobs hired by her fellow peers – jobs that involve conning people. Julep is the best at what she does and as the daughter of a grifter, she knows her stuff. Trouble does manage to find Julep when upon her return home from school one afternoon tells a story she isn’t sure how to handle – her father is missing. With the help of her best friend, Sam – and the school’s popular (and dreamy) guy, Tyler, Julep sets out to unravel the truth behind the disappearance.
Secular genres are really difficult for me to endorse because of the topics they bring in or rather how they deal with the topics – any element can be brought into a story and still be handled with class or delicacy. It’s rare to find a secular novel that plays by these rules. This book went with a “cuter” structure and overall, it works to its advantage. Anyone who doesn’t abide characters who lie to pave the way to a clear-cut pay day had better steer clear of this because otherwise, you’ll be disappointed in the story – Julep may be a teen with issues, but she doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes down to it – she lies to her clients parents as well as anyone standing in the way of her search for her father, lying for her clients or morphing into someone she isn’t in order to get the job done is just second nature to her.
If you’re grasping for something this resembles, think Leverage or White Collar and you have an idea of what this book is like. It features an unusual, albeit savvy female lead, whose story isn’t as interesting (though it IS fun) as it is the characters that surround her are. I enjoyed the dynamics between her and best friend, Sam (despite the potential to be cliché) and thought that Tyler seemed somehow “more” than a stereotype. All of this comes with a caution since this debut author doesn’t tell a story gently – seriously, guys, an otherwise lighthearted story ends with quite the bang and let’s just say not everyone comes out alive on the other side. Like, wow. The scattered situation ending will likely leave you wondering, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?” I know it did me.
Fans of heist stories or those that feature liars (as I recently heard someone say on booktube), won’t want to miss checking out this book. It’s smarter than some of the other books I’ve read in YA and isn’t afraid to mold its own niche. That alone says something for this debut author.
Content Note: this is a secular novel, so it does include some profanity in the text including sh*t and other mild profanities. There are some innuendoes and “sensual” make-out scenes, though nothing more than a PG13 kind of rating, definitely on the lighter end of that rating.
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.