Title: Teen Idol
Author: Meg Cabot
Publication Date: July 27, 2004
Synopsis: High school junior Jenny Greenley is good at solving problems … so good she’s the school newspaper’s anonymous advice columnist. Even if solving other people’s problems doesn’t make her own — like not having a boyfriend — go away, it’s still fun. But when nineteen-year-old screen sensation Luke Striker comes to Jen’s small town to research a role, he creates havoc that even levelheaded Jenny isn’t sure she can repair … especially since she’s right in the middle of it.
Can Jen, who always manages to be there for everybody else, learn to take her own advice, and find true love at last?
Teen Idol follows the main protagonist, Jenny, as she tries to navigate the dangerous waters of high school. Jenny has been described by her peers as “the mayonnaise” – meaning, that she smooths everything over, and gets along with everything. Jenny literally smooths over everyone’s problems, and is everyone’s BFF. Because of this, she’s given the job of being the writer of the school newspapers anonymous advice column “Ask Amy.” Jenny stays mostly out of the limelight, but all of that changes when she is asked to be the student guide for a transfer student – teen heartthrob Luke Striker, who is in town to research his next role as a highschool student. Luke ends up being a challenge for her, and prompts her to stop smoothing things over, and start solving problems. Can little Jenny Greenley rise to the occasion?
“You know. Life’s short. If you don’t try new things, you’ll never know what you’re best at. And you can only make time for new things by quitting the things you know don’t work for you.”
If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you that I am a BIG Meg Cabot fan – I was inducted into the fandom by my sister, after she let me borrow, what is now one of my favorite books, Avalon High. I even got to meet Meg at a meet and greet a year ago, and got my copy of Avalon High signed!
Needless to say, I was super excited when I saw that there was a Meg Cabot book available on Overdrive that I hadn’t read yet! I immediately borrowed it and launched into Teen Idol.
The first thing that I really loved about this book is that all of the characters were super relatable! In high school, I was very much the “mayonnaise” of my friend group. I got along with everyone, and I knew how to smooth over the problems. I’m also a drama geek, so I associated with Luke, as well as several of Jenny’s friends – basically I saw a little bit of myself in each of the characters. Meg Cabot is always really great at making her characters down-to-earth, flawed, and relatable to her readers!
I also loved that there was a lack of expected tropes in this book. There was no insta-love: she didn’t immediately fall in love with Luke when he came to her school. There was also no animosity-turned-love: she never outright hated Luke, and she didn’t overcome that hatred to fall in love with him. In fact, she doesn’t even fall for the heartthrob the book is named after. I can’t even begin to describe how happy that made me! I really went into this book expecting a typical Cinderella-style happy ending, but instead we got one that was entirely more realistic, and more in line with the personality of the characters.
I also love that this book addressed issues that happen in high-school and shows a character who is willing to step up and try to change them. Granted, the issues that Jenny fixes are not super deep (she doesn’t solve homophobia and racism), but she does stand up for people that are being bullied, or treated badly; and I found that really admirable.
Overall, I really loved this book. It surprised me in so many ways. I thought that the writing was really well done, though a bit cheesy in places. It definitely earns at least four stars, if not four-and-a-half. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted high-school romance!