Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
G. P. Putnam's Sons
Ages 12 and up
Enthusiasm is a downright charming book. I don’t know how else to describe it. It is a young adult romance, but any romantic with a sense of humor (from 12 to 92) will enjoy this straightforward and sweet story.
Julie is 15 and about to start her Sophomore year of high school. It is her friend Ashleigh who is the Enthusiast. When Ashleigh finds her new “thing,” she enters it heart and soul. This has included things from candy making, reptiles, favorite rock bands, the Little House books, and now Pride and Prejudice. Now Julie’s friend will wear only long skirts and speaks in the archaic language of Georgian England. She even has devised a plan for the two of them to crash the fall dance at the local all boys private school to find their Darcys.
In the process, they do meet two nice boys – one of which is Julie’s Mysterious Stranger who she had been seeing around town all summer. By the end of the night, Julie is swept away by him, and the next morning she finds out that her friend, Ashleigh, has found her Darcy too. The problem is that Julie and Ashleigh have chosen the same guy to play their Darcy, Charles Grandison Parr. So, now Julie is bound to keep her mouth closed as loyalty to Ashleigh. As the story progresses, the girls are thrown into the path of the boys even more as they become involved in a play, which the two guys wrote the songs and lyrics for, at the all boys school.
This is a book of comedy as well as romance and other issues of family, friendship, and first loves. It was very well written and interesting especially finding all the Jane Austen and other literary references. The author has depicted teen age relationships extremely well. And her poetry is terrific. (Parr is a poet). I found myself really starting to feel everything that the heroine of the story was going through. As Parr would walk into the coffeehouse where Julie was enjoying a beverage, my heartbeat sped up just like the heroine’s. It is a clean, sweet story that I would recommend for pre-teen girls and up.
See the author’s website at http://www.pollyshulman.com/ I read this book a couple years ago and I keep hoping she’ll write another YA novel soon. Maybe if we send her enough fan mail she’ll go ahead and do it.
Praise for Enthusiasm
“Winsome and witty, … Enthusiasm has the makings of an instant classic.” —Time Magazine
“Enthusiasm, like Pride and Prejudice, bubbles over with romantic misunderstandings and comic confusion.…The literary allusions throughout add a sense of fun.”
—The New York Times Book Review (an Editors’ Choice book)
*“Wry, engaging…While familiarity with Austen’s world …will deepen readers’ appreciation for Shulman’s impressive first novel, it is no means a prerequisite to enjoying this involving and often amusing narrative.” —Booklist, starred review
“Clever plotting and quirky, often elegant writing that should please the literary crowd while keeping romance lovers engaged. Several cuts above the usual fare.” —Kirkus
“A charming romantic comedy.” —School Library Journal