HarperTeen. Jul. 2023. 320p. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9780063238398.
Gr 7 Up–Lilac reworks 1999’s She’s All That in a pseudo pre–French Revolution setting. Whether this sentence excites or horrifies determines one’s enjoyment of the novel. Evie is a baker’s apprentice who side hustles in couture; Beau Bellegarde has just been publicly dumped by Rachelle, with whom he planned to become “king” and “queen” of the Court of Flowers Ball. On a bet, he decides to train Evie as a replacement. To be clear, this is not historical fiction. Here, “history” is garbled. Zippers appear a century before their invention. The premise of a coed university attended by the urban poor and the aristocracy is impossible. Women in France only gained access to universities in 1880. A reference to “standard French dress...inspired by the queen” is strange when Marie Antoinette was Austrian, adopted English fashion, and faced xenophobia on both counts. Social disparity is at the crux of this novel. Where is the revolution? Evie rejects her honorary title at the ball—and gives it to an aristocrat. The characterization is rote. Go to Jane Austen’s Emma or Clueless for makeovers gone awry; pick up Annemarie Selinko’s Désirée for a working-class teen facing the French Revolution; read Mackenzi Lee for the balance between history and anachronism.
VERDICT If you want to park your critical thinking at the door for a nostalgic teen rom-com rehash, this is the place to do it. Others should pass.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing