I just finished Diane Vadino's amazing debut, Smart Girls Like Me, last week. In preparation for the review I've been assigned to write, I Googled around and found her also-amazing and mouth-wateringly delicious fashion-and-shopping blog, Bunnyshop. (Bookmark. This. Now.) For a few days, I've been thinking about all the things I adore about Smart Girls while trying to figure out a way to discuss and justify the fact that it's packaged in a baby-pink cover with a picture of a rack of designer clothing. Because, you know.
What I couldn't understand was why I was forcing myself to care. A good book is a good book is a good book, even if the jacket art suggests something that will probably result in many incorrect snap-judgements. Because while Smart Girls is being marketed toward girls who love In Her Shoes and The Devil Wears Prada, it isn't anything like either of those novels. It's kind of like the fake-Chanel necklace I was staring at on the Forever 21 website today. I'm going to buy it, and I'm going to love it, and wearing it is going to make me exceedingly happy. Still, there will always be someone out there with the real Chanel necklace who thinks I'm a varnished fool. Oh well?
Earlier today, I was catching up on GalleyCat when I found this posting, "Don't Let the Pink Cover Faze You." It establishes just why Smart Girls is neither chick-lit nor "trick-lit," Seth Godin's lit-term-of-the-month.
Trick-lit, according to Godin: "A chick-lit novel that pretends to be something else, hoping to rope people in with an interesting premise. 30 pages later, you discover that you were deceived, that it's just another piece of genre trash." Godin's definition kind of makes my skin crawl. Like, God forbid someone recommends a novel is of a lighter fare than James Joyce! You've been completely HAD! Alert The Paris Review! Have David Remnick revoke this person's library card IMMEDIATELY. Tell NANOWRIMO! They shouldn't be allowed to participate anymore. I could keep going, but I won't.
I'm glad that GalleyCat brought this up, and I think I can write my review now. Perhaps more people will read Smart Girls and realize how lovely and good it is, and that sometimes the best writing can be a story about friendship and New York City and BOYS that someone has always wanted to tell, and is actually very, very astutely observed and witty. I love Diane Vadino so much more now, which is to say, a lot a lot a lot, and mostly that extra dose of lovin' is due to one of the things she said to Ron GalleyCat:
"I don't want to be too serenity prayer about it, but there are things I can control, and things I can't," Vadino said as we sat down to lunch in Brooklyn Heights, shortly after she had returned to New York City from an extended stay in London. "I just don't care anymore. I hate to be reductive about it, but I can choose to be obsessive or I can choose to just let it go."
Yes. Exactly. I'm buying my necklace. And I hope Diane Vadino comes to Boston on her book tour, because I would like to give her a really big, dorky high-five and maybe ask her if she wants to go boot shopping.