Published by Razorbill on April 19th 2016
If Amy Schumer and Rainbow Rowell had a baby, she’d be Anna Breslaw. Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a witty, hilarious, heartwarming novel that’s perfect for fans of David Arnold’s Mosquitoland and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor. When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett's stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
Salve loyal readers! That means “hello” in Latin, if you didn’t know! Today, I’m reviewing Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, a book I read recently and had mixed feelings about. Enjoy!
WHAT I LIKED
Scarlett’s fangirl personality felt real to me! Unlike with Bookishly Ever After, another book about a “fangirl,” Scarlett’s passions were authentic and relatable! I found myself thinking, “That sounds just like me!”
The dynamic between Scarlett and her mom (Dawn) was great! They reminded me of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore in a way.
I loved the fact that Scarlett had online friends of all different ages and personalities. I would say that the majority of YA books don’t really mention specific social medias; it was nice to read about a main character using Twitter like all of us bloggers do. Social media is a huge part of all teenagers lives, book characters are no exception!
I really appreciate that Scarlett was Jewish. I know the author is Jewish too, and I would’ve liked to see more Jewish culture represented. I appreciate the representation, regardless.
I really enjoyed the way the grieving in the book was dealt with. I’ll admit, I shed a few tears! It was heartwarming and Anna Breslaw’s emotional complexity as a writer was obvious.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
Despite relating to her fangirl tendencies and use of social media, I didn’t like Scarlett as a character. At all. I try not to be an intelligence snob, but Scarlett was just stupid. I get that it’s not easy for everyone to get good grades, but a 2.9 GPA? Really??? She made some really horrible decisions and, frankly, she was a bitch to a lot of people. At one point in the book, someone tells Scarlett that she has “both an inferiority complex and a superiority complex.” I was like, “YES!” She was truly intolerable.
It doesn’t seem like Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here had any plot. From the title, one would think that the book would be about a girl trying to get out of her home town, similar to one of my favorite books, I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios. This book was not like I’ll Meet You There at all. Instead of a gritty tale about love and wanting to escape the life you were born into, Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here consisted of a whiny girl pissing off a lot of people and unintentionally ruining her future.
This book reminded me of First & Then in a lot of ways. Sure, both main characters started off not really caring about their futures. The key difference is that in First & Then, the main character changed! She started to care about her future! You hate it here, Scarlett Epstein? WELL YOU SHOULD START DOING SOMETHING SO YOU CAN GET OUT OF THERE!
I guess Scarlett’s lack of motivation made her realistic, but I didn’t like it all. I don’t want to be friends with people who aren’t motivated and I don’t want to read about them when they’re done poorly!
I liked Scarlett’s fanfic more than the actual story…I think that’s bad?
Overall, I had a lot of problems with Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read it and what you thought!