For anyone wondering where the heck my update on my Hunger Games Workout is, don’t worry, it’s coming. I’ve been slacking just a little bit, because yesterday I spent all day reading Elizabeth Eulberg’s Prom and Prejudice. Even though it isn’t dystopian, it’s a super -cute YA read (or a read for anyone. My mom read it as well, and she really liked it).
Prom and Prejudice is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard the story (probably from a die-hard fan, who has been in love with Mr. Darcy from adolescence). For those who have been denied that particular pleasure, here’s a quick recap: Elizabeth Bennet, a middle-class young woman with one older sister, Jane, three younger sisters, and an over-bearing mother, meets the crabby and aristocratic Mr. Darcy at a ball, where Jane meets the love of her life, Mr. Bingley, who is Darcy’s friend. Elizabeth hears Darcy make a rude comment regarding her, and she becomes determined not to offer him a second chance. They go through a number of things together, and SPOILER ALERT eventually realize that they both have been proud and prejudiced towards each other. They eventually fall in love and get married. END OF SPOILER.
Prom and Prejudice follows this pattern in a modern, prep-school environment. Lizzie Bennet is a talented pianist and (one of only two) scholarship student at Longbourn Academy, a prep school for girls where money dictates social standing, and prom is legendary. After enduring a fall term full of taunts and bullying by her classmates, Lizzie returns to for winter term only to find her best friend and roommate, Jane, dying to take her to a school function with the boys from Pemberley Academy, a prep school for boys. At the function, Lizzie meets the good-natured object of Jane’s affections, Charles Bingley, and his best friend Will Darcy. However, after hearing Darcy make an uncharitable comment about her status as a scholarship student, Lizzie becomes determined to dislike Darcy, especially since he’s just a rich snob anyways.
This is absolutely one of my favourite Pride and Prejudice retellings. Although it follows the story of Pride and Prejudice closely, it has enough original (and funny!) elements to keep it fresh and exciting. I loved Eulberg’s version of Darcy. He manages to be brooding and quirky without becoming too irredeemably stand-offish, and is sweet in an understated way. Lizzie is pretty quirky and cute herself. Even though she can get pretty intense in her desire to avoid Darcy at all costs, I completely understood her motives, and liked that she was able to grow and to admit to her flaws. Which brings me to one of my favourite parts…
I loved how the author used the opportunity of first-person narration and a modern setting to directly say what the original novel implied. For example, when Lizzie visits Darcy’s New York home (the equivalent of the original novel’s Pemberley) with her mother, she begins to see Darcy in a different light. Afterwards, her mother asks her why she’s never mentioned Darcy, and Lizzie lies ho her, saying that she didn’t know him very well before, but does now. However, Lizzie later reflects that “It was only later, as I sat with that thought, that I realized that it wasn’t really a lie, after all. It was the absolute truth.” I loved these moments, as it helps to sort-of humanize teenagers, and acknowledge them as being capable of adult reflection and feelings.
To me, Elizabeth Eulberg is just about one of my favourite new YA authors. This novel (along with her others) captures the intensity of adolescent emotions without trivializing them, but doesn’t make adolescents out to be unreasonably angsty. Instead, she manages to also capture the beauty, lightness, and hopefulness that comes with youth. I also love how sweet this book is: no bad language, no turning Darcy into an oogle-object (let’s not forget the wet-shirt scene in the 1996 version of P&P), no making out. Ultimately, this book is one of the sweetest, funniest summer novels for teens, perfect for both classic book fans, and readers who simply want a snappy, sassy read.