Tag Archives: Maureen Johnson

Book Report – Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

13 Aug

I think a lot of people will agree with me, summertime is the best time for light reads. I think we’re conditioned for this by the public school system. After being forced to plow our way through thick, dry volumes throughout the school year, we naturally begin to crave something a little more irreverent. For a lot of “grown-ups” like myself, this can boil down to romance novels or fluffy “beach reads”… but for me, it means only one thing: Young Adult fiction.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of truly horrible YA novels out there. I don’t care how well-written it is, I won’t go near the Gossip Girl books, even though I kind of love the show. And although I’m generally against censorship, I do think every copy of Twilight (and all its sequels) should be rounded up and burned straight to hell. But then, there are some novels that are classified as YA, and I can’t really figure out why. To be honest, it seems like the major criteria for calling these books YA is their lack of explicit sexual intercourse. Such are the books of Maureen Johnson.

image via barnesandnoble.com

image via barnesandnoble.com

I put off reading Suite Scarlett for a good, long time, because the plot summary sounded kind of… stupid. Essentially, it’s about a family (the Martins) that owns and lives in a failing hotel in New York. Upon reaching a certain age, each Martin child is given a particular room in the hotel that they, exclusively, are responsible for maintaining. A dramatic guest comes to stay in the room that Scarlett Martin is responsible for, and a slew of wacky hijinks ensue. Oh yeah, and there’s a boy.

With Maureen Johnson books, there’s always a boy.

There are a few drawbacks to Maureen Johnson’s stories in general. For example, they tend to rely a little heavily on the sappy loveydove plot lines. I cringe a little whenever her protagonists get kissed… and they always get kissed… because the descriptions of said kissing tend to go on just a leeeeettle too long for my taste. Also, the conflicts are usually pretty tame (unrequited crushes, family squabbles, etc.), so her books aren’t always page-turners. Lastly… they don’t ever really have endings. Her books just sort of stop.

All of this being said, I definitely still recommend Maureen Johnson’s books. Mostly because she’s funny, and she’s not shy about provocative subject matter (read The Bermudez Triangle for a little taste of that). And while I don’t like every element of her style, her writing is certainly good enough to get me through to the end of the book. Essentially what it comes down to with Suite Scarlett is that I enjoyed reading it… I just wouldn’t read it again. But theĀ other great thing about YA novels? They tend to be cheap, so if even you hate this one, at least you’re only out about 10 bucks, instead of 20 or 30.

Still, 10 bucks is 10 bucks, so I say: borrow it.