Debbies World of Books
Debbie's World of Books

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

December 6th, 2010 by dsuzuki

Source: Requested for review

Publication date: December14, 2010

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars

Description from Amazon.com: Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

This book started off slow for me.  I loved the whole flappers era aspect and how Gloria, Clara and Lorraine’s forays into this underground environment varied so widely.  The way it affects each of them is not exactly what you would expect given each girl’s personality.

The characters

Gloria was your typical rich girl who was spoiled growing up and feels the need to rebel before she submits to a marriage of convenience.  The main problem I had with her was that as the story progresses she decides she wants to become a jazz singer and is even willing to run away with a forbidden man and try to make it big in New York.  This sudden desire seemed to come out of the blue and thrown in there simply to facilitate the forbidden romance.  I would have liked to see some build up as to why she would want to become a singer in the first place.

Clara was probably my favorite character.  She has a somewhat sordid past that she is sent to Chicago to try and runaway from the results of her actions.  She reinvents herself as “country Clara” in order to try and right her life and I loved seeing how parts of her act truly reflect her character and she must grapple with finding the happy medium between her rebellious side and her softer side.

The romance

Despite the whole singing career aspirations coming out of nowhere I did like the build up of Gloria’s fascination with Jerome, an African American piano player in a speak easy.  You are kept guessing if she is really willing to give up everything and face a life of recrimination if she were to pursue a romance with Jerome.  For Jerome, he would also face a tough future as white people would distrust his presence with a white girl and his own family and friends would judge him for dating a white girl.  Seeing if the two were really willing to make that huge leap was one of the things that kept me reading.

The story line

The story started off slow but the ending is what grabbed me.  When Gloria and Jerome’s romance is betrayed you are kept guessing who was the one who turned them in.  Was it Clara?  Lorraine? Someone else?  The ending will leave you hanging and wanting to know what happens to each of the characters in the next book.

ETA: I am glad that a reader kindly pointed out that using colored to describe Jerome was considered offensive and African American is the proper term so I have edited my post to reflect that change. I apologize if I offended anyone as it was not intentional.

Posted in 3 Star Books, Books, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

3 Responses

  1. Pam

    My teens really enjoyed this but the adults who read it didn’t. Strange.

  2. [email protected]

    I have this sitting on my TBR shelf and have been excited about reading it because of the setting. My father use to play in a band in the 20’s and I spent my childhood hearing about his experiences. I am disappointed though that your review is less than favorable. Still I will see what I think. Great review!

  3. Michelle

    I’m on the fence on this one. I’ll likely ick it up at some point but don’t know how quickly I’ll read it given the mixed reviews.

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