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The Princesses of Iowa

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,927 Ratings  ·  331 Reviews
What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.

Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, e
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Candlewick
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2012 YA Contemporary Challenge!
42nd out of 214 books — 1,326 voters
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93rd out of 293 books — 2,610 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 19, 2012 Mitch rated it did not like it
Shelves: no-just-no
Congratulations, Paige Sheridan, you're officially one of the most repulsive literary main characters I've ever had the misfortune of reading. I mean, I don't have a problem reading about shallow, self-absorbed characters who desperately need to be knocked down a peg or ten, but what you say and do is just unreal. There's being clueless and obnoxious, and then there's you. Unbelievable. And your sudden epiphany ten pages before the end when you finally realize how awful you've been, all so you c ...more
May 14, 2012 Giselle rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, own, contemporary
No matter what happens in life, use it!

Ultimately, The Princesses of Iowa is a book about life; it's about nothing, and everything. I was really taken by surprise at how much I became absorbed in this story. It's filled with reality. Real people, real emotions, raw moments, hard decisions, and true consequences.

Paige is dealing with the aftermath of a drinking and driving accident. She's changed, her friends have changed; everything is different, especially her plans for her long anticipated sen
Apr 09, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok
This review originally appeared on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Every now and then, a young adult book reminds me that I am not the target audience for YA authors.

The Princesses of Iowa is one of those books.

However, for the target audience of teen girls and their parents (you know, the people who pay for the books that their teenage daughters read), I’d say that The Princesses of Iowa is the perfect book. Except for ONE MAJOR ISSUE that I address at the end of this review for the sake of emphasis.

Jan 05, 2012 Lesley rated it it was amazing
I love books that end up taking a completely different direction from what I expected. The Princess of Iowa is exactly that kind of book. It's a coming of age story of Paige the rich, popular girl shipped off to Paris for the summer by her overbearing mother after the scandal of being involved in a drink driving accident with her party going friends. When Paige returns after the summer everything and everybody seems different and the only thing getting Paige through her days is a challenging cre ...more
Jul 09, 2012 Rachel rated it did not like it
I will say I enjoyed the writing--I'm a sucker for nice, poetic description dispersed here and there--and there were a few moments that caught me by surprise, in a good way.

But overall, it's just not my kind of story. Maybe I just can't get into petty high school drama, as this book was that and then some. Then, on top of that, reading about Iowa City and creative writing teachers from the workshop--a setting and situation I am very, very familiar with--it just didn't work for me. It's awkward t
Mar 14, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
At First Sight: Paige Sheridan seems to have everything in life: she's pretty, popular and well-off, in fact, she just spent the summer before senior year in Paris. But things are not quite as rosy colored once you look closer. The previous Spring, Paige was involved in a drunk-driving accident with her best friends Nikki and Lacey, and her mother exiled her to Paris so the scandal would die down quietly.

Now that she's back, Paige expects things will go back to normal, with her and her friends a

I received the ARC of this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press.

What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.

This book was a love at first sight as well as at first read for me, meaning it is as good as it looks! I was hooked from the very first page where Paige talks about last spring and the accident that changed everything in her life. It's told
This review has to start with, erm, a bit of a warning.

My name is Paige.

This seems irrelevant at first — it’s simply my name, what my parents decided to call me — until you read the book blurb. The main character’s name is…..Paige. Now, first, I have to say I like this — there are hardly ever any main characters named Paige and Paiges in books (when they show up, which is rare) are usually mean, nasty girls.

But this Paige is not!

But she starts out a mean girl.

So right away, I had my assumptions
A Canadian Girl
Apr 25, 2012 A Canadian Girl rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, 2-stars, candlewick
The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes was a book that left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the plot wasn’t exactly what I expected, and the characters were hard to like. But on the other hand, Paige’s emotions as a teenager felt realistic.

To be honest, I thought The Princesses of Iowa would deal more directly with the consequences of the drunk driving accident that Paige and her friends were involved in. Instead, Paige’s incredibly shallow mother ships her daughter off to Paris in t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2012 Joanne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-debutantes
There's so much going on in this book, but it's the kind of chaos that I'm sure mirrors the lives of many teens who regularly face complex problems and issues. Backes fearlessly covers topics like teen drinking (and driving), descrimination, entitlement and also the kinds of pressures (from friends and parents) that can often be crippling for young adults. Paige is entering her senior year after spending the summer away from her Iowa town, a summer where she was sent away by her parents after a ...more
Paula  Phillips
Jan 29, 2015 Paula Phillips rated it really liked it
One thing about having a lot of books on your kindle is that you never know what you are in the mood to read and it may take you a while to get around to a book that's been sitting there waiting for the pages to open. The other day I decided to go through my kindle list and pick up one that I had sitting there and grabbed "The Princesses of Iowa". Most of the time, I pick up a book I have a fair idea what it's about, but sometimes I don't and in this case I didn't. In this book it starts off wi ...more
David Blanar
Feb 26, 2013 David Blanar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly despicable characters trapped in a homophobic web of misogyny, privilege and casual sexual predation. Ironically, it is not poorly written; but the underlying messages are depressingly regressive.
Jan 06, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I'm inflating the rating on this one a little bit because it surprised me by its substance. I was expecting more of a "pink" book full of typical high school machinations and characters with more obvious plot and character movement. Heavier than but not hitting me over the head seems worth four.

Princess is what Paige had always wanted to be with her two best friends Lacy and Nikki when senior year homecoming rolled around. Instead she returns after a horrific summer of being an unpaid au pair fo
Jan 28, 2013 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, own, ya
I truly enjoyed the book as it dealt with the issues in an honest and open manner. Paige has her senior year all planned out for herself but at the end of her junior year, a drunk driving accident occurs and her plans are trashed. As a reader, you don’t find out the whole details of the incident until the end of the book but small details are scattered throughout the story and as a reader you piece the puzzle together. Paige, Lacey and Nikki dreams were to be homecoming queens together and these ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Gea rated it did not like it
Incredibly this author must live in a time warp of high school! I don't think I have ever picked out a book with such a sweet looking cover only to be drawn into such a web of filth, sexual perversions, alcohol, smoking...all of which we DO NOT want our teenagers to do! What is wrong with this author?

The language is unfit for anyone to read, it is a narrative with quips and shortened conversations between the key character and herself. It is not suitable for any reading audience because of the
Feb 22, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
I finished this book yesterday, but for some reason, despite the time I’ve had to think about it, I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts on it. I think it’s maybe because this book deals with some hard issues—and gave me so much to think about—that even now I'm still processing it all. But anyway . . .

Paige is a bit of a difficult character. And I mean that in the best possible way. She feels so real, for better or worse. While I never disliked her, some of her decisions made me cringe big
Up to the last chapter, I was going to give this book a 3, but it squeaked by with a lackluster 2 stars right at the end.

Despite bitching about her Summer spent in goddamn Paris in exile, Paige has a small spark that keeps me reading but for the most part she won't stand up for herself, except to say she's going to Northwestern, and it's killing me. What's with this Seniors as princesses bullshit anyway?

(view spoiler)
Feb 10, 2013 Elisa rated it liked it
I read the book for the FYA book club and would probably have stopped reading after the first few chapters if I had picked it up on my own. The characters were horrible people. Especially the parents. That being said, I do live in Iowa and I am aware that here (and probably every state in the US) has people like this living there. So, if you can get past not really liking who the characters are as people then Paiges story of self discovery is compelling.

Paige is going to be a princess. This
Usually, when a book has unlikeable characters, I don't think it takes away from the story, or the experience of reading. But every now and then, a book comes along in which the characters are so annoying, and learn absolutely nothing in the end. Nothing changes about how awful they are, no one sees 'the light' and tries to change. Nothing truly life-changing happens to them, either.

Paige Sheridan lives in the kind of world that only feels like it exists in books. People are obsessed with being
Aug 09, 2012 PhobicPrerogative rated it it was ok
*some spoilers!

It would have been so easy to not bother with this story because of the protagonist who seems to have it all - hot, popular, smart.
However, a few pages in, I understood why Paige Sheridan was what she was: with the mother she had, I could see why this girl had been moulded into what she was, an unlikeable, bratty girl who could be rather bitchy.

I did get a bit lost during some conversations/banter, and I thought that the story carried on for far too long. I suppose writing a book
Mar 23, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok

While I loved the writing in this one, as well as the characters who were just so damn unlikable, ultimately, this book didn't hold up over the course of its very long 450 pages.

Paige has a great voice in this book, and she's not a great person. She's made a ton of mistakes, and she doesn't really feel bad about them. She's stuck up, snotty, and very proud of her affluence and the fact she's had everything handed to her (there's a particular scene where she goes to the coffee shop Ethan's
Oct 18, 2012 Estelle rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

There seems to be a growing trend in young adult fiction I’ve been reading. Taking the popular girl main character and giving her a conscience. Sometimes this frustrates me because I was never the popular girl. I was the bookworm. The majorette in band. A CVS worker who liked to work in the shampoo aisle. The creative one. The existing moment that makes me relate to a character that is so unlike me, who is in fact the people I usually completely
Jaime Arkin
Solid 3.5 stars!

I've been sitting on writing this review for a little while, though I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's because I'm struggling with what to say about this book. Did I like it... sure. Did I love it... no. In fact, when we talked about this book in the bookclub that I read it for, I stated that I hated just about every single character in this book. Yet, still... The story was engaging and made you want to read more.

Paige Sheridan lives the perfect life... she's popular and
Aug 01, 2012 Courtney rated it really liked it
Paige does everything right, until one day she starts wondering if maybe she's been wrong all along.

Good grades, smooth hair, perfect eyeliner, just the right extracurriculars, the most popular and put-together friends. She's her mother's dream of perfection, bound -- inevitably, it seems -- for a spot on the senior home-coming court.

But now she's questioning it all. Just before "The Princesses of Iowa" opens, Paige and friends attend a cool-kids party where even the designated driver has a few
oh man, i am so glad i read this. i was working on a quarterly read challenge, and one was to read a 5 star book by one of your goodreads friends. i immediately went to A.'s page, because she so rarely gives out five stars, and she's sold me on a lot of good books.

i didn't feel the length, though i can see how other people, particularly teens, might. i almost wonder if the book would be better marketed to adults - as a teen in the middle of a lot of the drama and angst and self-doubt, i can see
I was drawn to this book because "Iowa" was in the title. This book portrade the teenagers as "real" people. I think we all go through times in our lives where we have lost sight of who we are because we have been trying to please everyone around us more than being true to ourselves. I enjoyed the under theme of writing tto tell the truth. Everything that happened in this story, really could of happened in "real" life. There was a good reminder to not drink and drive in this book. I will suggest ...more
May 19, 2012 JR rated it it was amazing
First, I know Molly--we were in an improv comedy group together several years ago. But honestly, and I swear, I would have loved this book even if I didn't know her. I may not have picked it up if I didn't know her, but if I somehow did, I would have loved it anyway. It's a beautiful, big book with beautiful, big writing, true characters, and a real setting. It's about Paige Sheridan, a girl with a perfect life, a perfect boyfriend, and perfect friends, who is finally ready to embark on the triu ...more
Emilia P
Jul 09, 2012 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: real-books
Densely written and interwoven, with a light and gentle touch. The storyline was not my fave/not written with say, me in mind - Mean Girls meets creative writing meets um... something about gay stuff... meets... well, I don't know. Basically, I have a hard time having tons of sympathy with the intelligent popular girl. BUT that said, it was phenomenally well written, had a strong sense of place (Iowa), great character interactions, a nice build to a satisfying and movie-friendly conclusion, and ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Mairead rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this. Loved all the Iowa feelings. Iowa 80 Truck Stop trips are for best friends forever. It was a bit hard to struggle with the main character when she wouldn't do the right things when I wanted her to do them, which is exactly why this isn't my usual genre--I can deal with teens in dystopias, but real world is usually just too real for me. But it was worth it in the end!
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M. Molly Backes is an exciting new talent in the world of young adult novels. After graduating from Grinnell College in Iowa, she moved to New Mexico, where she taught middle school and got 150 of her students to write novels for National Novel Writing Month. She now lives in Chicago, where she works at StoryStudio, Chicago's center for writing and the related arts.
More about M. Molly Backes...

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“How the hell do you sum up your sister in three minutes? She's your twin and your polar opposite. She's your constant companion and your competition. She's your best friend and the biggest bitch in the world. She's everything you wish you could be and everything you wish you weren't.” 35 likes
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