Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V: Cecily von Ziegesar & GOSSIP GIRL

"I never once said that I was writing books with guidelines for how to live. I mean, they’re fiction, and I think that’s the role of fiction: to entertain. And I don’t care whether it’s for children or for adults. That’s what fiction is about: escaping into another world. I absolutely hate kids’ books that have lessons telling kids how to behave. For me, that is not the role of fiction at all."- Cecily Von Ziegesar
Cecily Von Ziegesar's GOSSIP GIRL (Little, Brown, YA) centers around the lives of teens, most who live in New York City's Upper East Side. In this world, affluent teens consume alcohol alongside their parents, shop at Barneys and receive Kate Spade handbags as party favors. Here, you're only a "somebody" when you're being gossiped about so an anoymous web site called Gossip Girl dishes gossip about some of these teens' lives.

In the beginning of the book, Blair, a high school queen bee, is ready to lose her virginity to her long-time boyfriend Nate while her socialite mother is throwing some bash in their home. But Serena, Blair's former best friend, crashes the event and interrupts them- Serena just got kicked out of boarding school in Europe and has returned to the Big Apple. Turns out that Serena and Nate lost their virginity to each other back in the tenth grade but Blair doesn't know that for most of the book until she and Nate are ready to try having sex again...and then Nate tells her the truth.

You know that so-called writing advice about making your characters, especially the female ones, likable and good role models with their every thought and action? Without apology, Cecily Von Ziegesar breaks this rule. Her characters are not always likable. But they're believable and interesting, and that is what's more important to me from a reader's perspective. I can also see how some of these characters' questionable behavior stems from their pursuit of loyalty and acceptance and their fear of rejection and betrayal. That is the universal rhythm of how many teens (and adults and children) tick inside. And you don't have to be from the Upper East Side to relate to that.

Have you read GOSSIP GIRL? Do you find books with subliminal lessons on "the proper way to think and behave" patronizing to the reader?

11 comments:

Lynn Proctor said...

I love that she breaks the wrong rules anyway- to me good writing is honest -

Lynn Proctor said...

I love that she breaks the wrong rules anyway- to me good writing is honest -

Em-Musing said...

I'm guilty of being preachy in my first manuscript. An editor told me that my opinions were too obvious. She was correct. So I had to revise to get my thoughts out of my character's heads.
And the crazy thing is...I hate when other books do the same.

Pat Hatt said...

Subliminal lessons can be eye roll worthy as it is all opinion.

Claire Annette said...

I would have loved reading this as a teenager since I loved to escape into books that has characters with lives different than mine.

Jo said...

I agree they would be patronizing and I would not enjoy them. I don't think this book would appeal either. I tend to avoid books about young people - especially spoilt young people.

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

I haven't read any gossip girl. But I think I would enjoy them. Wish I had more time to read everything!!!

Elizabeth said...

I have not read this, but I did watch a few episodes of the Gossip Girl show. I think it makes the characters more realistic when they are not always likeable.

Liz A. said...

I'd never heard the rule that your characters had to be likeable. I know writers tend to like their creations, but not everyone is going to like them.

I wouldn't enjoy this book. I've met too many of these types of people. I don't enjoy reading about them.

Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

Random Musings said...

I haven't read the books but I have watched all of the show and I loved it! The glitz and glamour and the utter ruthlessness of these people are intriguing - how they regularly stab each other in the back then the next minute they are teaming up to take someone else down! I love the characters because they are believable - they are warts and all and it seems more real than them being nicey nicey all the time. I love how you can go from rooting for one of them and crying along with them to hating their guts and back again, often all in one episode!
Debbie

Megan Herbert said...

I read the first four or five book in the Gossip Girls series and then stopped. I would like to continue reading the rest of them though. I only saw a few episodes of the show, but I didn't care for it that much. ~Meg Writer‘s Crossings

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