Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not Just Party Girls by Jeanne Betancourt

Starting things off with a short post about a book I didn't hate. Not Just Party Girls is the story of three teenage girls who have their own business planning birthday parties for little kids. And the party girls are:

Anne: who's rich and kind of spoiled but a definite do-gooder.
Kate: whose parents are divorced. And that's it. She and Anne have been best friends forever.
Janet: whose father lost his job and turned into an alcoholic.

They're soon joined by Peter, a hot guy who likes to make videos. Of the parties. Oh yeah, Peter likes Anne. At one time, this would've thrilled her but it turns out Anne kinda wants to be a nun.

Anyway, the focus of the book is mostly on Anne. She spends some time volunteering in a camp-thing for migrant workers, sees how horrible their lives are, and decides she wants to devote her life to making their lives better. By becoming a nun. In the process, she totally ignores her friends and their problems. Because life only sucks for really poor people. Yeah, I'm sounding extremely insensitive to the plight of the poor migrant workers. Oh, well.

The Party Girls (that's the name of their business, see) make a lot of money considering they're juniors in high school. However, Anne totally loses interest and decides she wants to quit. After all, work is only worthwhile if it helps other people. And not just your friends who need help. They have to be really poor, otherwise it doesn't count.

Other plots: Janet's been stealing company money to help her parents pay the mortgage. She's afraid to tell the others about her home situation and her family's dire financial straits. Considering Anne would probably snottily tell her how good she has it over the migrant workers, maybe that's a good thing.

Kate's father walked out on her family, got remarried (after cheating on his first wife with wife number two), and had a baby. Kate hates visiting him but does it anyway and actually kind of bonds with her baby half sister (emphasis on half is totally Kate's).

Okay, this is getting much longer than I anticipated. However, I can't leave this out: Anne volunteers at the migrant camp over Memorial Day weekend (totally abandoning Kate in the process since Anne had promised to go along to Kate's father's house). While there, Anne gets the brilliant idea for her and Peter to film a sort of expose (how do you do accents?) about the conditions faced by the migrant workers and the evil evil farmers. When a boy loses a hand, the shit hits the fan because Peter caught the whole thing on tape. Anne didn't know or care that the nuns who try to help the migrants are really careful about their relationships with the farmers and the tape and hand-loss situation looks reaaaally bad.

Anyway, all this crazy action leads to Anne deciding maybe she doesn't want to be a nun. She still does, however, want to dedicate her summer and probably her life to volunteering. Whatever. And that's where the book ends. Finally.

A few quick points:
  • While I get that Anne wants to make a difference, she's an idiot for thinking her only option is as a nun helping migrant workers. I didn't think she was a sympathetic character at all.
  • For the final birthday party of the book, Peter got them the job but didn't bother to get any details. The party was for a 10 year old named Leslie. The girls planned a great makeover party with a beautiful cake that would be perfect for a 10 year old girl. Too bad Leslie's a boy.
  • It's a little too convenient for the Party Girls that their families each have something to offer the business. Anne's house is great for parties, Kate's mother owns a store and is willing to give the girls a discount for party favors, and Janet's mom is an incredible baker.
  • Speaking of Janet's mother, there's sort of a hint that she should start her own catering business. By the end of the book, it seems like she might actually do it. She won't give up dealing with her obnoxious, alcoholic husband, though. I'm not suggesting she leave or anything, just that maybe she shouldn't be such a doormat. But if it makes her happy... (Sorry for being insensitive!)
  • Anne's parents are ridiculous. They're rich, they totally spoil Anne, and they constantly talk about money. It seems like their worst fear is that Anne'll actually follow through with a vow of poverty.
  • The book takes place in a part of New York I know fairly well. I did a little internet research and actually learned a little about the migrant worker situation that really does exist there and I knew nothing about. Not that that's surprising.
  • Jeanne Betancourt wrote the Baby-Sitter's Club TV show! Which is totally awesome.

Giveaway: I guess, if anyone wants it. It's on the as-yet-to-be-made list.

I may write about an old favorite Blue Willow next. Or soon, anyway. It's about migrant workers.


  1. yay! Another blog!

    And I'm up for it, if you are serious about that give away. Looks like a cool book.

  2. Yay, another YA lit blog! Here via Sadako! This sounds like a real winner...dang. I've never read it, but I would totally have been all over it as a tween. I loved holier-than-thou do-gooders.

    I added ya to the links on my blogs - for all the good it'll do, since exactly two people read MY blogs, one of whom is Sadako - but, you know, it's the thought that counts ;)

  3. Hi coulrophobic agnostic! Love your name, by the way. Actually, I'm sure more than two people read your blogs. I especially like the Jesus one... fun stuff. :)

  4. Hee, thanks :) I wanted a name that somehow encompassed both my blogs - it's a bit wordy, but it really sums me up as a blogger and as a person ;)