Author: Jennifer Ziegler | Website
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
My Interest: Jane Austen
Age Group | Genre: YA| realism
Series: No. Standalone!
Two things that initially grabbed me about this book is 1. it’s a Jane Austen Tribute published during the bicentennial of Sense and Sensibility and 2. serendipity is my all-time favorite word.
Honestly, I was very much hoping for a fortunate accident when it came to this read. I even imagined myself coming up with lesson plans and ways to integrate it into my Jane Austen unit that I also imagine myself teaching someday.
However, I’m not so sure that will actually happen.
Sass & Serendipity is the story of Daphne and Gabby Rivera, two high school sisters (15 and 17 respectively) in the heart of Texas. If you’re familiar with Ms. Austen’s novel, then you’ll understand the just of Ziegler’s S & S. Daphne is a somewhat typical 15-year old who falls head over heels with the new boy. Her notions of romance and love don’t turn out so well and she ends up being ostracized by her classmates. As for Gabby, she’s a little disappointed with the men in her life and ends up taking it out on any man to cross her path–such as best friend Mule and pretty boy Prentiss. As usual with teen realism, there’s a stint at the prom, a happily ever after, and some kissing involved.
I was impressed with the tribute aspect of Sass and Serendipity, and I feel that Ziegler knows her Austen. Her modern day plot fits very well with it’s predecessor; however, I was not a fan of her characters. In fact, they often annoyed me. I read Daphne as a lot younger than fifteen–she was very whiny and bratty and though the naivety fits with the Marianne Dashwood character, at times she felt over dramatic. As for Gabby–that girl just frustrated me to no end. She was way too bossy, bitter, and downright mean. I didn’t grow up with sisters, but if I did, I would hope beyond hope that I didn’t have the kind of relationship these two did.
Despite not falling in love with the characters, I really did enjoy Ziegler’s writing style and her narration device. She often shifted perspective from Daphne to Gabby to sometimes a third person outside perspective. That little trick allowed me to get into the head of both characters, but sometimes I just wanted to rattle their brains.
Though I don’t see myself teaching this anytime soon, I would definitely recommended Sass & Serendipity to someone trying to get into Austen, or perhaps wanting to compare/contrast classics with modern novels. A good paper could be written on characterization.
It’s a very faithful adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, and if you can appreciate a Jane Austen retelling, this would be a fun weekend read for you.
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