I received Triple Shot Bettys in Love by Judy Gehrman in my big box of Penguin books, but after reading the first two pages, I realized this was not a stand-alone sequel, so I ordered the first in the series, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, so I could read it first. The premise sounded cute. Geena is excited that her favorite cousin, Hero, is coming to work in the coffee shop with her and her best friend, Amber, for the whole summer. She envisions a summer of girl-bonding that dissolves when Hero and Amber instantly hate each other. In the first couple of pages, I thought there was nothing that could make me want to finish the book. What happened? I learned the nickname of one of the main characters, a name chosen for its shock value and advertisement of sexual experience, and I thought, "I have a daughter. There's no way I can handle this." I am SO glad I pushed through and kept reading, because what followed was a cute, clever, laugh-out-loud story of three very different girls and their growing friendship. Gehrman uses stereotypes (the Skater, the Slut, the Trust-Fund Priss, the Jock), but defies them at the same time by making her characters more about other characteristics. The aforementioned Slut turns out to be far more complex than I had feared, and (I'm a mom now, so when I read YA, this is something I think about) the message ends up being more about embracing who you are than the Girls Gone Wild story I was worried about. I think it's actually a very positive message for teen girls. And when Hero's reputation is ruined, Geena and Amber (and a diverse group of guys) step up to make things right. The positive messages are completely integrated in a very funny, yet moving account of growing up in Amerca today, so it's not preachy in the least. Gehrman does a great job of rendering scenes that made me absolutely crack up (Geena looking for her nonexistent dog as a cover was hilarious), while making her main characters shine with realism. Lovely story, told in diary entries written by the delightful Geena.
The sequel, Triple Shot Bettys in Love, has Geena unwillingly flirting with a cute new teacher on MySpace under Amber's name. She thinks Amber's fixation on the teacher is unhealthy, but she knows Amber will have to find that out for herself. Meanwhile, Geena's boyfriend is spending time with a childhood friend who's moved back to Sonoma Valley, a gorgeous fashion plate. Geena has to learn how to be a girlfriend without losing her identity while trying to unite Amber with Jeremy, a far more suitable beau. I thought this one was cute, too, though it didn't sparkle quite as much as the first.
Do you want to win these two books? Confessions is a trade paperback, and In Love is a trade paperback-sized ARC, and they need a good home! To enter, leave your best dating story (funny, embarrassing, whatever) in a comment on this entry. But hurry! I'm closing this contest Thursday, February 12 at midnight Pacific Standard Time. I'll pick my favorite story and send the winner's books out by Valentine's Day!