HEARTS AND DIAMONDS by Leonore Fleischer


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The first in a new four-book teen soap/romance series about the students at fictitious Holly Hills, ""the Tiffany of prep schools,"" and perhaps the weakest entry in a genre under fire. The story follows the romantic adventures of Carry, Courtney, Electra and Amanda during the first half of their freshman year, culminating in the season's hottest social event, the Hearts and Diamonds Ball. Rampant stereotypes, real eye-rollers, are off and running on page one, where the Jewish member of the quartet is described in terms of make-up, giving orders, shopping, and lines like ""you simply cannot get good help these days!"" The arty couple, vegetarians, provide the book's entry into the sensitivity category. Beyond stereotypes, we have enough clichÉs, exclamation points and italicized phrases to rival even Helen Gurley Brown, including this bit of dialogue: ""Do you love him?"" ""Yes! No! I don't know! ""Carelessness abounds (on page 120 it's January, six pages later it has become December) and opportunities to flesh out the story are not taken--Courtney, the child of a major film star, has no adjustment problems; the four girls share a cramped room but never have a moment's tension. One gets the feeling that other plot lines are undeveloped because that would leave fewer pages in which to talk about boys. Told in the third person, the story has no single point of view but wanders aimlessly from the omniscient to whichever girl is currently in focus. The narrative style is glaringly inconsistent, moving from motherly/sappy to pedantic to pseudo/hip. There's plenty of sex here: one couple goes all the way on their second meeting, and another does everything but, though descriptions are not graphic. There's no real exploration of feelings, or of why characters act the way they do. And an instance of academic cheating is condoned by the narrator as ""a gift from the gods."" What's more, teen readers will be able to smell the grown-up behind this story on every page. Obscure references to tiny Madison Avenue shops, ancient Greek philosophy and Swifty Lazar (a name surely known to every American teen-ager) will only confuse readers, and lead one to wonder how attuned the author is to the lives of adolescents.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Signet/New American Library