Capital Girls wasn't what I expected. Although, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what I expected it to be, exactly, but it read like an episode of a highly politically slanted Gossip Girl - or probably, more like several episodes. While GC was not one of my favorite TV shows, for this book, that's not a bad comparison. It worked really well actually and Capital Girls turned out to be an interesting, fast paced story and a quick and easy read.
It starts out with our main character, Jackie, visiting the grave of one of her recently deceased best friends, Taylor. She is confessing to Taylor a secret she can't share with her other friends, because she's falling for a really hot guy she shouldn't fall for and Taylor always knew exactly what to do in every situation the girls had ever found themselves in.
Jackie is an almost eighteen year old girl who is dating the Presidents son, Andrew. She is frustrated with their very non-sexual relationship and she makes a few really poor choices that lead to HUGE consequences. And when you're in a relationship with the Presidents son, you live your life in the fishbowl for the public eye to scrutinize, and any small or big indiscretion gets plastered across every tabloid nationwide.
Laurie Beth is trying to find her own path in life. She dreams of singing and dancing on the stage and plans to apply to Julliard even though it will go against everything her mother wants her to do. She has her own secrets to keep - mainly to do with the fact she's in love with someone she can't have.
Lettie is the quiet Latino girl who plans to change the world. She is a Paraguayan immigrant to the US. She is here with her family on a embassy scholarship so she works hard in a less than desirable position for the money she and her family need to survive. There is an interesting side-storyline going on with her and the real life immigration issues she is focused on fighting for and her plight for her home country. But a blossoming secret connection with an old friend may change her priorities and make her dreams that much hard to achieve.
Whitney is the California transplant and newest to the group. She is the daughter of a tabloid reporter who happens to be one of the most well-known, cut-throat people behind the biggest celebrity scoops in California. Whitney hates everything about Washington D.C. and the only thing she wants is a ticket back to her life in California. Sadly, Whitney's only way to get home is to make her mother happy. So she is forced into the role of Mole and goes uncover to get the scandalous secrets and juiciest capital gossip about her newest a-lister friends.
And finally, back to Taylor. Taylor was the beautiful, vivacious and adventurous blond bombshell all the girls in the capital city envied and wanted to be. She was the one who took the biggest risks, always made the best times and the most memorable, she partied hard and lived harder. Living every moment of her life to the fullest.
She was also the glue that essentially held together the four girls - the 'Capital Girls' as they called themselves - who had been best friends since childhood. And they were inseparable ... until the accident.
The horrible car accident that took Taylor's life changed the lives of everyone around her.
Her tragic death sent shockwaves of grief throughout her elite circle of friends and her family. (Throughout the book are flashbacks of Taylor from the different characters' memories and points of view, which gave a great sense of Taylor as a realized character in the book even though she had died before the first word on the first page)
Everyone in the story grieves differently for their friend/sister/daughter ... all the characters are struggling to move forward in their lives. However, those holding secrets are having a harder time moving forward than others.
There are quite a few plots and story lines here, but for me, it was the mystery as well as the scandal of all these huge secrets that propelled me through this story. Wanting to know how it all was going to turn out, who was going to end up doing what and/or with whom and wanting to see if my guesses were going to be right, or if there were going to be major curveballs thrown in a the last minute.
Even though a few of those big, awful secrets are revealed before the last page, and there are several giant secrets alluded to throughout the story, so believe me, it's worth getting to the end for!. Being the first in a trilogy, Capital Girls also ends on a cliff hanger that leaves us dangling with even bigger questions about even bigger secrets.
Luckily, I have book two in the Capital Girls trilogy on the shelf ready to read. yay me! It's called Secrets and Lies, and from that title, I can only guess what's in store for these likeable and loatheable characters. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out. because I'm nosy like that.
Overall, I really liked and enjoyed the story.
I would recommend Capital Girls to anyone who loves Gossip Girl and Sex in the City type entertainment. I would probably say appropriateness level would be ages mature teen/17+ due to the fairly adult themes - underage drinking, smoking weed and talk about sex (or doing it) - not to mention the lying, cheating and political backstabbing and blackmail that goes on behind the closed doors on Capital Hill.
Of course, if you're old enough for either of those racy-ish TV shows then this book will be a breezy fun walk in the park.
Just a couple small things that bothered me. And really, it's probably *only* me, so...
There was a whole lot of name brand and designer name dropping, as well as the names of all the trendiest places in the Capital city.
Name dropping is okay when it's lightly sprinkled in to add flecks of realism to the story and the name of a famous location certainly assists in the world building ... but when overdone it's something that just annoys me.
There were times I would say to myself "okay, this paragraph was brought to you by that so-and-so top designer, or major product, or trendy restaurant or shop etc"
Having said that, while it was sometimes too much for me, it still worked for this particular story - in a "I'm so posh and rich" Sex in the City product placement sort of way.
Also, there are a LOT of characters to keep up with in this book. I only mentioned the main characters in my review, but there are more than a dozen people to keep track of here. The kids don't always have the same last name as their parents and I stayed about half confused trying to remember which character was the sibling to whom and/or which parent the kid belonged to and then you have to throw in how that other person is connected to the poliitcal foodchain, etc. Also, Jackie kept calling one of the women 'Aunt' and I still don't think any of the kids in the story were actual cousins ... so yeah, O_o ...
There were several times I wished for an appendix or a family tree sort of thing in the back of the book that explained all the different relations.
If this book sounds even slightly interesting to you then read it if you get the chance. For the folks who read one book right after another, this is a great filler book for in between those meatier books that take a long of brain power to read. :)
**I won this book in a GoodReads first-read giveaway. Thank you Goodreads and Sarah at http://us.macmillan.com/capitalgirls/EllaMonroe for the opportunity to read Capital Girls. They also very kindly sent along an ARC of the second book in the series, Secret and Lies, which I plan on reading soon - if not next.