Saturday, July 02, 2011

Review: Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Title: Lipstick Apology
Author: Jennifer Jabaley
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 286
Release date: August 6th 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought at The Book Depository
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
When Emily Carson's parents die in a plane crash, she's left with nothing but her mother's last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: "Emily, please forgive me."
Now it's fall and Emily moves to New York City where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.

First sentence:
Steve McCaffity just undressed me with his eyes.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I was super-excited to read this one. I love the title Lipstick Apology, and I thought it would be a mixture of grief and romance, which is perfect fot me. Obviously, I was pretty disappointed.

The plot is good. I still like the idea, and I did end up liking the revelations Emily made about her mother. The romance aspect is predictable, but still could have added a lot to the main plot. The plot isn't my problem with this one - it's the writing and the characters.

Mainly, Lipstick Apology isn't even written like a novel, but like you normally talk. And while Emily's voice is pretty authentic, in my opinion, you shouldn't write a book like that - choppy, melodramatic - I could just listen to one of my friends tell me about their day it that's what I wanted. It's literature, and it should be written accordingly. I don't know if that's just me, but I think a writer should be able to convey what they're trying to tell the reader with literary means, and not just put entire sentences in all-capps or italic. Sure, that's fine every once in a while, but not on every page. Sometimes, in between that type of writing, there are a few passages attempting to sound deep, that actually could have been pretty good, if they didn't seem so out of place because of the general style, and if they weren't so melodramatic.

The characters are my other main problem. Emily is, in one word, annoying. While I could understand her being torn between Owen and Anthony at first, it got old fast, and she made a way too big deal out of it. Okay, she wants to be popular, but wouldn't befriending the two most popular girls in school (which also isn't realistc, if she's as shy and socially awkward as she describes herself) already make her popular? Dating Owen made her even more popular, but I don't think that little thing is enough to make someone make the choices she made. I didn't feel her grief at all - most of the time she doesn't seem sad at all - she's just a normal, giddy, slightly annoying teenager. Her mood swings are crazy. She goes from being normal and happy to being angry and screaming at everyone around her for no reason in a second, making it almost impossible to relate to her.

The secondary characters fall flat. All of them are clichés and have one personality trait that becomes their entire person - Owen is a player, Anthony is the geeky, nice one, Andi is the bitch, her friend (whose name I cannot even remember - now what does that tell you?) is supportive, etc. I didn't build up a connection to any of the characters and didn't end up caring about what happened to them. I have to say, though, that I really liked Trent - yes, he's also a clichéd chracter, but he's a fun one!

Another thing that annoyed me is that there is no character growth. The description (the "and ultimately heal" part) makes you think it'll be about Emily accepting her parents' death and moving on, but I don't think there's a difference between Emily at the beginning and Emily at the end - other than her knowing what her mother meant with her "lipstick apology". In my opinion, that revelation had no effect on Emily's process of moving on, other than throwing some anger in there and never resolving it.

No, Lipstick Apology isn't terrible, and if plot is what's most important to you and you're looking for a quick read, go ahead and read this one. Just don't expect anything touching or insightful. If you're like me and writing and characters are important to you, I would not recommend Lipstick Apology - choppy, melodramatic writing and flat characters made it hard for me to enjoy this book.


  1. I'm dissapointed. I loved Crush Control. At least it's good that her second book is better.


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