GREAT by Sara Benincasa


Age Range: 12 - 16
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Alas, this debut is anything but the titular great, though it could have been pretty good.

Naomi feels at home in Chicago, hanging out with her best friend, Skags, and living with her father. So when she spends summers in the Hamptons with her mother, her ratty T-shirts and love of books make her an outsider. But this summer, things are different. She’s actually friendly with Delilah Fairweather, senator’s daughter and up-and-coming model. She’s got her first boyfriend, the dorky yet popular Jeff. Things are good with her mother. And then there’s Jacinta Trimalchio, fashion blogger and Naomi’s next-door neighbor. She’s mysterious and different, and Naomi likes her. But Jacinta has many secrets and one obsession: Delilah Fairweather. And that obsession will lead to scandal, an accident and death. This retelling of The Great Gatsby—especially with the “edgy” twist of a lesbian relationship between Jacinta/Gatsby and Delilah/Daisy—disappoints, as the story’s original elements are good enough that riding Fitzgerald’s coattails isn’t necessary. Naomi’s voice and character are engaging, and her relationships with Jeff and her mother provide plenty of fodder for a coming-of-age novel. The Gatsby elements are the weakest, from the character types to the plot.

Read this for Naomi and try to forget The Great Gatsby. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-222269-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014


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