Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Teens, Young Adult
Format: Hard Cover, Kindle, Paperback
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WELCOME TO HAMILTON ACADEMY, THE FINEST OF THE FINEST OF PREP SCHOOLS FROM ALL AROUND, WHERE OPULENCE DWELLS AND SECRETS ABOUND.
Fifteen-year-old Gwen Stevenson gets a chance of a lifetime. Escaping from the depths of small-town boredom, she finally sets her sights of embellishing the wonders of New York City. While entering the halls of the prestigious Hamilton Academy, she meets reserved bookworm Kyle, Aspiring filmmaker Vera, Valley girl Shawnie, and gets an unexpected reunion from her two childhood friends, Maxine, a southern belle who plans take over the popularity food chain, and Mona, a reclusive rebel who has dreams of becoming a rock star. Gwen soon realizes that she is no friend of honor society president Bianca Walworth, who doesn’t appreciate her longtime boyfriend, Chace, making flirty eyes with Gwen. Having a new life in the big apple has never been so complicated but in the end…Will there ever be solace in the city? Manhattan Girls tells the coming of age story amongst a group of unlikely friends going through the journey of life beyond the Upper East Side.
Manhattan Girls by J. D. Fitzgerald is a story about growing up, adjusting to change, and the strength of true friendships. The story starts with Gwen, a teenager growing up in North Carolina. Her home life is troubled with an alcoholic father, so when her mother gets a job opportunity in New York city working for the New York Times, Gwen and her mother move to the big city and a new life. Gwen enrolls at Hamilton Academy and is nervous about making new friends, having left her two best friends back in North Carolina, but she needn’t have worried as there is a grand reunion, and making friends is not as difficult as she anticipated. Soon there are five firm friends, all with different characters and life stories, but the girls blend together well as their lives unfold and they evolve and adapt to city life.
The author, J. D. Fitzgerald, has crafted a great coming of age story, where the characters and the situations of the girls help them to cope with their changing roles. Take Gwen, for example, a shy girl embarrassed by her braces and dull clothes, who blossoms into her true self with the help of her friends. Each of them realizes their dreams as life takes them on their journey. The author has done an excellent job molding the individual styles, home life, experiences and characters of the girls to turn the story into a mix of Grease meets Friends in a novel that will excite and empower every young adult reader.
J. D. Fitzgerald has skillfully written the transition from country girl to city girl and painted a vivid and candid picture of life at a city academy, with all the stresses of growing up and relationships, to style and personal achievements. With a little touch of humor and personalities that will excite and frustrate, this true to life story will have you engaged from the beginning and satisfied at the conclusion. There is no doubt that many readers will be able to relate to the situations the girls find themselves in, from the makeovers to the stirring of attractions to finding one’s true identity, this book has it all. Get ready to immerse yourself in life at Hamilton Academy and New York City and marvel at the resilience of the girls as they set out on life’s journey. Manhattan Girls is a great read and hopefully, the author will have more tales to tell of the intrepid five as they continue their adventures.
Reviewed by Jane Finch for Chick Lit Café