Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster

Published by NAL, a division of Penguin Group

Rating: 4.5 stars

With the guidance of fashion to narrate her stories, Jen Lancaster's Pretty in Plaid is about her childhood, teenage years and transition into adulthood, serving as a "prequel" to her first book, Bitter is the New Black. From tales of Junior Girl Scouts to sorority mayhem, this latest memoir offers readers an invaluable glimpse into how Jen Lancaster came to be who she is today. True to her signature writing style, Jen includes letters and memos as visual aids, illustrating all the embarassing, triumphant and especially hilarious moments of her youth up until her first entry-level position.

It is important to note that Jen Lancaster's books are not your garden variety memoirs. There is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about her writing and most importantly the woman behind the writing that have mass appeal and keep readers coming back for more (including myself!). Yes, she is funny and yes, she is quirky. She is also not afraid to speak her mind. These are all part of the reason why she has such a huge fanbase (8665 fans on Facebook and counting...not to mention reaching the bestsellers list multiple times)but there is also so much more that can only be discovered after reading her books because once you do, you instantly feel like her very best friend.

After waiting what felt like an eternity for my next Jen Lancaster fix, I was really excited to delve in Pretty in Plaid and hear about Jen's earlier years. While I didn't find this book to be as "laugh-out-loud funny" as her previous ones, there was a different kind of magic to it that can only come from a flashback to the past and all the accompanying nostalgia.

I realize that I'm not necessarily the target readership for this particular Jen Lancaster book, (considering I was born in the eighties, rather than having been a teenager at that time), however I still found myself relating to different experiences and events, which really says a lot about how universal the book is. Common themes of longing for acceptance, facing those who tease us, dating dilemmas, new schools, new jobs, and um of course fashion and shopping are relevant to everyone. I may not have known what each piece of clothing looked like but I could appreciate its message and how it affected Jen's life for better or worse.

If you are new to the writing of Jen Lancaster, I'd suggest reading her earlier works first to better appreciate this latest look into her life. (For a feel of her writing style and quirky personality, check out her popular website, but be prepared to laugh until you cry). For those who are already Jen Lancaster converts, you will not be disappointed with all that is offered in Pretty in Plaid!

Watch the following trailer for Pretty in Plaid - it's hilarious:

BIG THANKS to Melissa and Penguin Group for my review copy


Ashley said...

Great review! I loved this book, and I too wasn't even near tweendom in 1990.

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read this book, even though I haven't read any of her work. The video was fun!

Katherine said...

This book is HYSTERICALLY funny. I've seen Lancaster read from her work in person, and she's wonderfully entertaining.

Belle said...

I need to pick this one up - I love funny memoirs, and this one sounds like a particularly good read. I haven't read Bitter is the New Black yet - I should probably pick that one up first.

A Reader said...

I've read her for years starting with Bitter. Her web site is funny too. She once posted an ad for a couch she was trying to sell on Craigslist. She made even that sound funny. Will look forward to reading this.