Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
Katherine Tegen Books, 2012
Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.
The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.
But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
I requested this book for review because it was touted as a modern day Robin Hood retelling, which I found sort of fascinating and was curious how the author was going to pull it off. Truth be told, I had a lot of problems with this book, to the point where I nearly quit reading it midway through.
Willa Fox is a new student at an elite prep school in Arizona, which she and her mother just moved to. Willa is immediately taken in by the Glitterati – the rich, popular, pretty girls of the school – and thinks she’s finally made it. She starts spending all of her time with the Glitterati, attending scandalous weekend parties and spending every afternoon at the mall, shopping at expensive stores. But then Willa starts to see the distinct line drawn between the students at the school: those who have wealth, and those that don’t. So Willa decides to pull a Robin Hood-type thing, and rob the rich to provide the poorer students with something to “even the status quo”. And that’s when this book really went down hill for me.
First off, I was leery about reading this book because I’d seen two separate not-so-great reviews. The issues they brought up were significant enough to make me think twice, but I decided to go ahead and read it anyway. And, ooh, boy, this book. Aside from Willa’s really stupid way of trying to even the status quo, I had a VERY serious issue with the topic of bullying that’s brought up, and the way it’s never actually addressed. Bullying via Facebook or other online blogs or message boards is a very real threat to teens these days, and it’s precisely what’s going on in this book. There are exactly two times that someone says anything against said bullying, and both times it’s brushed aside or causes such a huge rift in the Glitterati friendships that the topic is let go and continued to be ignored. THIS IS NOT OKAY. [SPOILER]Willa stealing money and clothing, etc., from the rich to purchase new clothes for the “Busteds” (i.e. the girls who are “bussed in” from the city) does not even begin to address the true issue here. She’s not fixing anything; she’s choosing to ignore the real problem and trying to put a bandaid on it for an only temporary fix.[/SPOILER] I feel like the better way to go about this book would be to address what Cherise was trying to do, and the results it had on her social status (if you will) because THAT is the true problem here, not the fact that the [SPOILER]less fortunate girls didn’t have pretty expensive clothes to wear[/SPOILER].
Also, I didn’t like that Willa automatically assumed Tre’s record involved theft of some sort. And I didn’t like that she just took Kellie’s word for it, either. There was a lot of stereotyping going on here, none of which is addressed in any kind of real, useful way.
However, there was enough question marks going on, particularly involving Willa’s mom, that compelled me to keep reading. And then of course none of them are answered, because this is apparently the first in a series. Do not like.
I will say, however, that the ending was completely and utterly cute, and made me smile a lot. Still, not a favorite. I think the story could have been really great, if it just would have addressed the true problems inherent in this type of plot.
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.