Pub. Date: November 28th 2010
Pages: 334 pages
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.
The cover of this book does not do it justice. I feel like the cover is very plain and nothing special. The Princess of Las Pulgas is not plain and is most definitely something special.
C. Lee McKenzie is a wonderful author and her talent shines through in this book. The plot idea may not be something out of this world unique, but it is a touching, coming of age story. I loved reading about Carlie's every day life and how she was working through all of her problems. It sounds quite boring, but the way it was written really made it interesting. It wasn't a on the edge of your seat, or gripping you story, but it was very interesting.
Carlie was your average teenage girl. She had her ups and mainly downs, but she really grew as the story went on. I loved seeing how she grew as and her attitude diminish. Her family, teacher, and friends all played important roles too. C. Lee McKenzie crafted them just enough to be important, but not overpowering.
The only complaint I have is that the book was quite predictable. This was to due with the fact that it is not the most unique story. What it lacks in that area the author makes up for in the writing and characters though.
Overall I wasn't expecting this story to be that good, but it was and more. I recommend this book to everyone, especially teenagers.
Rating: 4.5 stars / 5 stars