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If I could be Like Jennifer Taylor introduces us to freshmen student Carolyn Samuels. She is far from popular, overweight and often times the brunt of jokes at school. There is one girl, Jennifer Taylor, that has made Carolyn's life hell all through middle school. As the first day of high school arrives, Carolyn doesn't even want to go to school because she doesn't want to deal with Jennifer. In the end she has to go of course and it appears Jennifer has not changed at all.
Of course they are in the same math class because they are both in honors and they have gym together since it is scheduled alphabetically. As Carolyn sits in gym on the first day, Jennifer gets back to her old games and begins teasing Carolyn. Carolyn has a fainting spell and has to be taken to the nurse. Jennifer escorts her, but if Carolyn wants Jennifer to keep this embarassing situation a secret, it will cost her.
She agrees to do what Jennifer asked her and pretty soon she is in over her head. Was being popular really worth all of the trouble and lies? How long can she keep lying to her true friends? Is it possible that Jennifer isn't really as bad as she thought all of these years? Is her crush really paying attention to her? How does Jennifer stay so thin? Is she hiding anything?
Carolyn will get the answer to all of these questions before the year is over. Her life is going to change immensely during the process. Will she be able to remember to breathe and be able to make it through?
I loved this book. It was an easy and entertaining read. Ehrentreu addresses a lot of serious issues in this book. From bullying to other things. (I don't want to give too much away!) It was very nice to see these issues brought up. Unfortunately, even though they happen in every single school on a daily basis, they are often ignored. Reading this book will really make you pay special attention to the little things going on around you. The end of the book definitely gave me some closure as well, which I love.
I would recommend this book to everyone, but I would especially recommend it to young girls. It covered so many issues that the young ladies of today face, and I think it could definitely help some of them to face their problems.
Great job on this one Barbara! I don't have any daughters of my own, but I will definitely be recommending it to my friends daughters!
A fantastic read!,
This review is from: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor (Kindle Edition)I don't often read YA, but I might need to change if I keep running into novels like this one. The writing is clean and crisp with a plot very easy to follow. This writer is very polished and has master the art of writing for YA readers. I can understand how girls forced to work with others they do not like has such a big impact on them. In drawing from one line in the novel, and slightly modifying it for here, a small outline of this novel is like ordering a peanut (butter) and jelly sandwich with out the bread. You need to read this story! This author can definitely take you to a world that needs to be explored.
If I Could Be Like JT May 30, 2012
Superb Teen Fiction,
This review is from: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor (Kindle Edition)Carolyn Samuels suffers from a lack of confidence, a negative body image, and a tendency to hyperventilate when nervous. As if that wasn't enough for any teenage girl, she longs to be more popular and become a cheerleader. But her new school year is overshadowed by the fear that one of the most popular girls in the school, Jennifer Taylor, will torment her as much as she did in middle school.
Jennifer knows why Carolyn faints and blackmails her into doing her Math. Then Carolyn discovers that the not so perfect Jennifer has a secret of her own that will have devastating consequences if kept hidden. To further complicate matters, Carolyn has a crush on Jennifer's boyfriend, Brad, and begins to neglect her two best friends. But when Carolyn and Jennifer reluctantly begin to work with each other, the scene is set for a year Carolyn will never forget.
This book for Young Adults is a must read for every teenage girl who has ever felt awkward, overweight, unpopular or bullied at school. It also deals with the lies, self-deception and eating problems that often beset young people. With its high school setting and contemporary issues, Ms Ehrentreu has written a book that will be remembered long after the final page is read.
Real Contemporary Tale,
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What I really liked about this novel is how the main protagonist isn't skinny but rather a healthy sized teen. Carolyn also deals with issues that are familiar with other teens such as struggling with wanting to be popular and fitting in. Her love of her family is shown throughout this book too. Another big plus has to been her attitude. She's not over the top negative or filled with 'tude which is refreshing in a market that at times is filled with darker stories. For teens that want a lighter story, this is the one for them.
It would have been so easy to have Jennifer be the stereotypical 'mean' girl. The author does a great job showing us the real Jennifer, who isn't all perfection.
The huge issue in this story is Jennifer's secret that not only high school but college girls have in common. How Carolyn deals with this information is the main crux of this novel. Jennifer's secret takes a toll on Carolyn in ways she can't even imagine. Add to that her crush, Jennifer's boyfriend, who seems to have taken an interest in her too.
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is a real, honest take on a girl who wants to be popular and then struggles with whether she wants to pay that price. I feel this book would be great for high school and book club discussions on food disorders and also peer pressure.
1. Carolyn is very likeable and not over the top with 'tude
2. Sensitive issues are tackled in a realistic way
Posted originally on YA Books Central: [...]
This read exactly like a high-school diary, and for a grown woman to retain an ear for the way teens talk now is beyond remarkable. It is a tale worth telling. BTW, what is the secret Jennifer is keeping for herself?
I felt the anguish of the heroine in Ms. Ehrentreu's story and like another reviewer said, this isn't just a book for young adults...it should be recommended reading for mothers with daughters who might need help coping with what I consider life's most difficult years. We've all had a Jennifer in our lives, someone we aspired to be, but did we really know them on the inside, our just the out? I highly recommend this wonderful read to everyone. Who knows...maybe you really wouldn't want to be like Jennifer Taylor.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Although Jennifer tormented Carolyn throughout middle school, Carolyn still views her nemesis with envy, and after the two are paired for a Math project, Carolyn discovers that Jennifer isn't perfect after all. She has a dark secret. For Carolyn, the secret becomes a burden and a source of conflict. She is torn between her new loyalty to Jennifer and doing what she feels is right.
Keeping the secret causes Carolyn to question who she is and what her values are. Although she wants to spend more time with Jennifer in the hope that popularity will rub off on her, she is also aware that this would mean distancing herself from her two true friends, Becky and Janie.
The voice in this novel is authentic, and the first person narration is convincing. We are truly inside the mind of a 14-year-old girl as she experiences the joys and pitfalls of life as a high school freshman. The pace is quick, and you want to find out what happens to Carolyn, who is depicted as an average girl with self-esteem issues. It is easy to identify with her. After all, the majority of us have felt like Carolyn at some point as teenagers. Overall, a satisfying read, and this will appeal to young teenage girls who are experiencing similar difficulties.
12/31/2011- Arlene Webb gave 5 stars to: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu on Amazon and on Goodreads:
I pretty much only give 4-5 star reviews. If a story doesn’t grab me opening chapters, with limited time, I set it aside. This debut novel hooked me opening page and didn’t let go. I felt like I was completely immersed in Carolyn’s world. Without an excess of drama or unrealistic focus on getting a boyfriend, clothes and makeup, this 14 year old told her story from the viewpoint of an honest kid who genuinely respected and cared for her parents. So refreshing! Her relationship, especially with her mom, was lovely in the fact Carolyn showed wonderful character growth by the last page, and the author didn’t need to have abusive parents or hateful teenager to do so.
The hard topics of bullying, self-centeredness, serious health issues some young girls deal with, and so forth was all told so well I could go on and on, but I don’t want to give away spoilers. The story left me smiling, certain more teenagers are actually like Carolyn, Jennifer and the rest, capable of doing the right thing, and because of that this novel is on my treasure and re-read pile. In all honesty, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is one of the best novels about teenagers I’ve ever read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Carolyn Samuels will grab you from the first page and stay with you long after the last!, October 1, 2011
By Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik
Barbara Ehrentreu's break out YA novel may indeed be a cross-over book, enjoyed by adult women as well. The main character, one Carolyn Samuels, pulls you into her world from the opening scene as she is dreading her first day of high school and her "too large" jeans hanging over her bedroom chair. The novel is not only a wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age novel but deals with the delicate issues of self-discovery during the painfully self-conscious teen years that girls must successfully negotiate in order to become self-confident women. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor will catapult an adult woman back to her teen years and resonate with teen or preteen girls in a way that is both genuine and ultimately inspiring. As a former teacher and a psychoanalyst I can easily see this novel included in Middle and High School reading lists. I would not be at all surprised to see this book as a TV or Studio film. An important and thoroughly enjoyable read, written in a voice crackling with authenticity.
4 out of 5 stars: Took Me Back to My Teenage Years, October 1, 2011
By B. Nadine Feldman "spawoman" (Houston, Texas)
I read this book as a woman over 50, and yet it took me back to my teenage years. Carolyn is awkward and uncomfortable with herself, and Jennifer appears to have it all. As Carolyn tries to fit into high school, her parents, though loving, are distant from the trials she's experiencing. She struggles with keeping old and solid friendships while seeking greater popularity. We get to see the character of Jennifer gradually expose her own problems, and the result is poignant.
There are a few moments when events happen "off camera" that would have added to the drama had they been brought front and center and heightened more -- such as when Jennifer confesses her deepest secret to her parents. However, I found that even at my age, I couldn't put the book down. Watching Carolyn come into her own, in a way true to her character, was thoroughly enjoyable.
I often tell my stepdaughter that we shouldn't compare our insides to someone else's outsides. That, to me, is the essence of this book, and it's a good one for teenage girls. Kudos to Barbara Ehrentreu for writing a touching story that young women, and in fact older women, can relate to.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for tweens/middle-graders, October 20, 2011
By Marva Dasef "Tales of a Texas Boy" (Eugene, OR)
Barbara Ehrentreu offers a taste of those nasty old days of beginning high school when you're not the cheerleader with all the friends. Most of us, right?
Carolyn is the nobody who wants to be somebody, and that somebody is Jennifer Taylor. Blond, beautiful, dating the star quarterback. Jennifer has it all, and Carolyn envies and fears her ridicule.
By chance, the two girls are paired to complete a math assignment involving statistics. That means they have to cooperate to get it done. Thrown together, Carolyn is scared spitless of the haughty and rude Jennifer. Strangely, though, it's Jennifer who saves Carolyn from an embarrassing situation.
The story continues even when the assignment is done. As Carolyn learns more about Jennifer, she begins to see the cracks in the perfect facade. Jennifer begins to rely on Carolyn because she's NOT one of Jennifer's in-crowd friends. In other words, a person who can keep a secret.
A mutally symbiotic relation takes shape, with Jennifer helping Carolyn become the popular cheerleader she wants to be, and Carolyn kindly helping to first hide, then help, Jennifer's own secret.
This is a pretty good book looking at two sides of the social spectrum in high school: the haves and have nots. While written in first person from Carolyn's point of view, she's a good narrator who sympathetically shows us the dark side and light sides of Jennifer.
I think the dialogue was a little stilted. I've been run through the teen talk mill by a friend who happens to have five kids and knows every bit of jargon and slang. Perhaps the speech should have a few more yannos and BFFs in it. That's not a huge downside given an otherwise well-written book. I have to rate it down a star because it's a little bland. Carolyn is too nice, Jennifer isn't evil enough. It's a better read for a tween who hasn't yet been corrupted by the cliques and meanness. Maybe it will help them become a better person.
4 out of 5 stars:Don't you just love high school?, October 17, 2011
By Barbara Bockman
Carolyn Samuels has a problem. It's name is Jennifer Taylor. And that's not all. She has another problem. When she gets nervous, she hyperventilates and gets faint. The very popular Jennifer and her friends taunt Carolyn by chanting: "Breathe, Carolyn, breathe." But by some twists of fate, Jennifer and Carolyn become dependent on each other. Carolyn learns Jennifer's dark secret and becomes embroiled in deception and lies. Add into the mix a couple of cute boys, the pull between wanting to be popular and struggling to deal with friendships, and thoughts of betrayal--and you have the kind of situation that makes high school a place to both love and dread.
Barbara Ehrentreu has woven together several strands of teen concerns: body image, dating (or not), bullying and jealousy, friendship, and the push to excel at sports at all costs. And overall, hangs the question: should I be myself or try to become someone else?