Title: The Fashion Committee
Author: Susan Juby
Genre: Realistic Contemporary
Publication Date: May 23rd 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“It was beginning to occur to me that I was a little too in love with stereotypes and preconceptions.”
Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion. John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn’t care less about clothes. Both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. Whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship–and only one can win. Told in the alternating voices of Charlie’s and John’s journals, this hilarious and poignant YA novel perfectly captures what it’s like to have an artistic drive so fierce that nothing–not your dad’s girlfriend’s drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, a soul-crushing job at Salad Stop, or being charged with a teensy bit of kidnapping–can stand in your way. With black and white art custom-created by fashion and beauty illustrator Soleil Ignacio, the book is a collector’s item, perfect for anyone with a passion for fashion. – Excerpt from Goodreads.
The Fashion Committee was much better than I had anticipated. I am not the biggest fan of light contemporary but this had a wonderful balance.
Trigger Warning: Drug addiction and domestic violence.
This book started off as your typical, light contemporary novel. It was exactly what I was expecting and that was fine. However, part-way through the story the characters were revealed more and more and their backstory started coming out. They were dealing with drug addicted parents, self-esteem issues and poverty. It went deeper than I had anticipated but not so deep that when you are finished with the book you feel completely drained and depressed.
This book is a dual perspective of two people trying to get into an arts school by winning a fashion show. Our first perspective is from Charlie (short for Charlene) is a very eccentric character. She is very passionate, borderline obsessed with fashion. She is constantly trying to build herself up and gear up for her life in the fashion world. This, of course, means she is learning very questionable French from Google Language. She dropped a lot of random French through-out the book and the funny thing was is that I didn’t find it distracting. Her fit her oddball character and her desperation for fitting into the fashion world. Making a name for herself. I thought Charlie was wonderful and I liked that she really wasn’t a mean person at all. Competitive, yes – mean, no.
The other character along on this journey is John. He’s got the bad boy vibe going – though he doesn’t come from a stereotypical broken home. He has loving supportive grandparents that would do anything for him. However, he still has a chip on his shoulder. He’s resentful, selfish, and a bit of a jerk. I have no idea how the author made me like this character but she did. John just seemed authentic. He’s young and makes rash and selfish decisions – that makes sense to me. He’s not a horrible person – just someone trying to figure themselves out and making some poor decisions along the way. I didn’t find him as complex or interesting of a character as Charlie but it was still interesting watching his part of the story unfold.
The side characters were mostly great in this one. I was drawn to Mischa the most and my heart ached many times for that woman. She just seemed so lost and broken and I wanted it all to be ok for her in the end. I felt her character was very well-written – even if a few times Mischa and Charlie were in some more unrealistic situations.
The last thing that I adored about this book is that it’s Canadian. I didn’t notice that when I first picked it up but there are many references to Canada, so you pick up on that the author must be from there pretty quickly. I mean, is it wrong to get happy over a Tim Horton’s reference or two?
Great book that has some more mature themes than it first presents itself. I guess this probably falls somewhere between light contemporary and realistic contemporary but the author made it work. I recommend checking this out if it sounds appealing at all.