October 21, 2013

Title: Red

Author: Alison Cherry ♥ @alison_cherry

Published: October 8, 2013

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers ♥ Random House

Pages: 320

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads:  Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say “strawberry blond.” Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Average Goodreads rating (as of 10/21/2013):4.03

  • Christina though this title was surprisingly fun. It goes on her third shelf.

** SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

♥ Initial Thoughts and Actual Rating: 3.5 stars! I’m not sure exactly what I expected from this book going into it, but I don’t think it was the fun, satirical-feeling young adult novel that I ended up getting. I wasn’t completely blown away, but I did enjoy it.

♥ The Lowdown: Welcome to Scarletville, a safe haven for those with ginger locks, where they can increase their gene pool and make sure those blessed with the MC1R gene thrive. You see, in this little town tucked away from the world, the lusher and deeper hue your red locks are, the more status you carry around town. To be a Strawby (strawberry blond) or a brunette or blond means you’re unlucky enough to ever be noticed; you’re  only an afterthought. But above all colored tresses, the biggest no-no in this Iowan community is to be an Artie- a big ‘ole fake that gets their color from a dye bottle. So, that’s why when our protagonist, Felicity St. John, gets an anonymous letter stating, “I know your secret.” that her world comes to a screeching halt. Because at this point in her life, she’s poised to lose it all- her ‘red cred,’ popular jock boyfriend, but most importantly, the Miss Scarlet Title and the prize money that could secure her escape into the real world and an art school of her choice.

So, this becomes a story about a girl that learns that being yourself is hard, but can be more rewarding than being buried by the pressure that comes with blackmail letters and a domineering mother who wants to relive her dreams through her. It deals with the reality of bullying and overcoming it to accept yourself.

♥ My Thoughts: For a large portion of the beginning of Red, it was really hard for me to get a grasp on this story and suspend disbelief about a town that based your merit solely on the color of your hair. But then I thought about it, and realized that society tends to lump people in categories all the time- race, body size, sexual preference, intelligence, athletic ability, everything all the way down to what you wear or your physical appearance, so why couldn’t a town in a fictional story do that as well, except for make it about your hair color? Yes, the idea was a little preposterous, but once I got into that mindset, it was easier to sympathize with Felicity and her struggles. After all, it’s always difficult for a person realize the absurdity of their situation if that’s all they’ve ever known. That’s exactly how it is for Felicity. She’s only lived her life a certain way since she was a toddler, being groomed by her mother and her high expectations to follow in her footsteps and being focused on only one thing- the importance of keeping her natural hue a secret and winning the Miss Scarlet pageant. It’s hard to step out of line and think for yourself when you’re in constant fear of the boundaries of the small box you’ve been placed in. But then her blackmailer learns her secret and forces her to question the lengths she’d subject herself to to protect her secret.

Then a conversation with her art teacher makes her realize that Scarletville is just one tiny town in this huge world we live in, and it’s a lot more forgiving and understanding.

 Felicity couldn’t fathom the concept of a person’s hair color being unimportant. Rarely did an hour go by when she didn’t think about her own. 

     “Huh,” she said. It was less than articulate, but it was all her addled brain could manage.

     Ms. Kellogg reached out and tucked a lock of Felicity’s vibrant hair behind her ear. “Just wait till you get out into the world, Felicity. I think you’ll be surprised by how big it is.”
quote taken from my eARC of RED at 52%

I enjoyed a majority of the characters, and that they were portrayed as realistically as possible considering the storyline. Though, at times, I had a harder time connecting with Felicity, and I think that’s in part to it being written in third person. In the end, though, I liked that she overcame her overbearing mother and realized that being herself and chasing after her own dreams was perfectly fine. I liked that her friend, Ivy, and real love interest, Jonathan, helped her along the way. They were my favorites of all the characters.

♥ Rec It? I’m not sure if this is for everyone, but it was definitely entertaining for me once I was able to overcome the plausibility of a town like Scarletville existing. I have to give bonus points for originality and for the fact that Felicity basically told her mom to suck it, but detract points for the things that I felt were missing, particularly my inability to truly connect with Felicity. I also would’ve liked to have had resolution between Felicity and her other best friend, Haylie. Well, that or an epilogue about her flourishing in art school or art camp would’ve left me more satisfied with the book. All in all, it was a different kind of book from the norm and definite fun read.

♥ A very special thanks to Delacorte Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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