Book Review: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

View from the window seat:
Paige Sheridan is perfect: she’s pretty, has a hot boyfriend named Jake, and is one of the most popular girls in school along with her two best friends, Lacey and Nikki. After luckily surviving an accident, Paige’s life starts to go wrong. A distance has grown between her and her friends, boyfriend, and sister. Paige doesn’t know who she is anymore. Her creative writing class, taught by an amazing new teacher, might help her figure it out.

Is anyone else tired of the pretty, popular, mean girl transformation arc? I seriously am. These stories never read genuine to me; I think in reality, the mean girl just turns into a mean woman who still finds ways to put down others. I never buy the transformation from total bitch to hero. Paige’s change over the course of story didn’t feel real to me at all.

Paige never becomes someone who is likable. For most of the story, she’s a self-centered bitch. Then *poof!* she suddenly has morals. Her best friends are even worse. Lacey is a complete bitch. Not only does she treat everyone like shit, but she also tries to steal Paige’s boyfriend. And this is the girl Paige is best friends with? Oh, and there’s the fact that Lacey is a raging homophobe. Another thing I just didn’t get was the fact that Paige has known Lacey for practically their whole lives but is only now discovering Lacey is homophobic and just plain a terrible person. Then there’s Paige’s homophobic boyfriend who spends the entire novel either drunk or yelling out misogynistic absurdities like “I’m too much man for you” or some shit. Don’t even get me started on her mother, who probably deserves to win the Worst Mother of the Year award. Her mother nitpicks every single thing about Paige’s appearance, from her clothes to her weight to her skin. Her mother also does this for her friends; at one point, she comments that she thinks Nikki gained weight, when it’s obvious that Nikki has an eating disorder and is dangerously thin.

There are two decent characters: Shanti and Ethan. Both have unique, interesting personalities and are also good people. I quite honestly would be more interested in reading a story about them. Though I don’t get why Ethan falls for Paige. As far as I can tell, he’s so much better than she is.

I know I’ve complained a lot so far, but there are two things that really bothered me. One was when Jake purposefully ran over a raccoon with his car. That’s serial killer behavior, yo. The other was when Jake tried to date-raped Paige AND THIS WAS DROPPED AND NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.

Overall impression:
The Princesses of Iowa is well-written, but the characters are so frustrating and terrible that I won’t be reading it again.



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