How to Buy a Love of Reading.
Gibson, Tanya Egan (Author)
May 2009. 352 p. Dutton, hardcover, $25.95. (9780525951148).
Carley Wells is a high-school junior at a private school in upscale Fox Glen, where families spend an undue amount of time and money outdoing each other’s party budgets. Carley is overweight by 57 pounds (according to her personal trainer), “intellectually impoverished” (according to her English teacher), and has never read a book she liked. Worried about college applications, Carley’s parents (who never read themselves) commission a book for her—a book whose author will be ensconced in their mansion and shown off at Carley’s Sweet Sixteen party—as evidence of the Wells’ “devotion” to good literature. While Carley and “The Author” collaborate on the book, Carley continues to struggle scholastically and socially—especially with her best friend, Hunter, a senior chick magnet with whom she has a deep but platonic relationship. Hunter’s own problems have led to excessive Scotch binges and a Vicodin addiction, unbeknownst to his clueless and apparently uncaring mother. Brimming with literary allusions, commentary on the rich and famous, and the necessary ingredients for a successful novel, Gibson’s ingenious debut succeeds on many levels.