The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

trouble with flirting

The Trouble with Flirting
Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeen, 2013
FORMAT: Realistic Fiction, Retelling of Mansfield Park
AGES: Middle and High School
4 Stars

Franny Pearson is at a prestigious summer theater program. But she isn’t there as a theater student, even though she loves to act. Instead she is there as the assistant seamstress, helping her aunt sew all of the costumes for the 40+ actors in the program. When she gets there she feels alone with only a no-nonsense aunt. Thankfully on her first day there she meets (or rather re-meets) her friend from middle school, Julia Braverman. Luckily for Franny Julia and her friends (including her twin brother Alex) have taken her into their crowd. That means that even though Franny is constantly slaving away on costumes, she still can take her breaks with people her own age instead of watching old-people television shows with her aunt every night.

Of course this mirrors bits of Mansfield Park. Franny falls for Alex Braverman who in turn pays little attention to her and totally falls for Isabella Zevallos, the beauty from L.A. that is best friends with bad boy Harry Cartwright. All the girls in the group swoon over Harry except for Franny. And Harry finds himself drawn to Franny, in part for that reason. What follows is a light romantic tale similar to Jane Austen’s classic. However, there is a HUGE twist compared to the original tale. And I didn’t like it at first. Then I re-read the ending (and thus the twist) three more times. And with that and a few more days…and I have decided I really like the twist. So much so that I changed my original 3 star rating to a 4 star rating. Yeah, I liked it.

Book Discussion Questions:
If you were Franny, what type of summer job would you be interested in getting?
If you were in one of the four Shakespeare plays, which one would you want to be in?
Compare/Contrast Alex and Harry. What are their good qualities and their faults?
What do you think about the twist on Mansfield Park? Did you like it? Would you change it back?
What is better/worse, to be good inside or good outside? Why?

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