FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Albert Whitman Teen (via NetGalley).
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen on March 1, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
"What's in a name? Everything...if you have my name."
At her exclusive Manhattan high school, seventeen-year-old Gia is the most hated/loved girl in school. Why? Her father doesn't have a boss. He is the boss--the capo di tutti cappi, boss of all bosses. Not that Gia cares.
But life gets complicated when she meets a cop she calls "Officer Hottie" and feels a surprising chemistry. Then Vogue magazine wants to feature Gia in a fashion spread about real-life bad girls. On top of that, she's running for class president. Can Gia step out from under her dad's shadow and show everyone there's more to her than "Mafia Girl"?
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Seventeen-year-old Gia seems like most other teenage girls. She gets grounded by her parents, spends too much time deciding what to wear, doesn’t always get along with her older brother, and finds herself at odds with a nasty clique of girls at school. But as much as she’s like to be just another teenager, she can’t escape her name or judgement it brings. Being the daughter of the Mafia Don is anything but normal.
When she’s arrested for DUI and other standard teenage trouble-making, she can count on her dad’s lawyer to get her out of it. What she doesn’t count on is the hottie arresting officer. And as much as he tries to resist, it seems Michael is just as taken with her. He’s not easy to win over, though. Despite her best efforts at flirting, not to mention some innocent stalking to find out more about him, Gia can’t get a read on Officer Hottie. He seems interested, even affected by her, but dating an older guy who could very well be working on putting her dad behind bars isn’t something she can come right out and tell her family.
It took me quite a while to get into the story, in part because of the stream of consciousness writing style and also because of Gia’s spoiled little rich girl bad behavior. The writing style, while unusual, in many ways enhances the story and gives us a clearer picture of Gia’s mind, but at the very least it could have used better editing. Stream of consciousness often results in partial and run-on sentences, but it shouldn’t negate proper punctuation or resort to all caps for emphasis. The all caps thing really drove me nuts as I was reading.
I also had a little trouble buying the relationship with Michael, which is a awful considering it’s a major plot point. I can understand Gia’s infatuation with him, but the basis seemed rather shallow. She goes from lusting after and flirting with the hot cop who arrests her to needing to see him again, to possibly being in a real relationship, all without knowing very much about him at all. His vague and one-word responses to her up until the very end of the story didn’t so much show his personality as it made him impossible to connect with from a reader’s perspective.
I don’t know. On the one hand, it’s a great story about a universal teenage girl who simply wants to be known for who she is, not who her dad is. The class elections, the sneaking out, the getting grounded … It was all so normal and easy to relate to. But I didn’t really buy the romance, which, if written better, might have made for an incredible read. Still, I loved that the story focus was on Gia, on her just trying to live her own life. In a lot of ways it reminded me of those hardly-known independent movies that tells a story so subtly that you almost think it’s boring — until the day-to-day life that seems so trivial becomes fascinating.
Unfortunately, Michael’s character was sadly underdeveloped, as were the characters of Gia’s friends and parents, and there were lots of things mentioned that just turned into plot holes. It was often implied that Dante was interested in being more than just friends with Gia, but aside from that, the subject was entirely glossed over. And some rival family or associate was making attempts on their lives, but aside from the actual scenes when it happened, that was it. It was such a neglected part of the story that it seemed like it was added as an excuse for Michael and Gia to talk — if his lack of response to just about everything could be considered talking. Likewise, Gia’s family was rather two-dimensional, her mother being a cooking fiend while her father only ever around to reprimand her for bad behavior and eat dinner. I could tell what the author was trying to do with the characters, but it just didn’t happen.
All in all, this had the makings of a great book — and a unique one at that, since its focus was on a mob daughter doing her damnedest to just be normal. But while it was a somewhat entertaining read, I couldn’t help but be disappointed when it didn’t live up to its potential.
Oh, and while this book is about someone in the young adult age range, I certainly wouldn’t market it to that group, as Gia’s behavior at the beginning of the book as well as the sex is not appropriate for an age range traditionally defined as starting as young as 12 or 14.