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Scarlett #1

Suite Scarlett

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Si vivir en un hotel art déco a cinco minutos de Central Park te parece un buen plan, deberías hablar con Scarlett Martin, que vive en el Hopewell. Vivir en un hotel puede no ser tan maravilloso como suena, sobre todo si no hay huéspedes ni dinero. El verano de Scarlett se presenta muy mal cuando sus padres le piden que se pase todas las vacaciones trabajando gratis. Afortunadamente el hotel recibe la visita de la excéntrica señora Amberson, que decide instalarse todo el verano en el Hopewell y contratar a Scarlett como secretaria personal. Gracias a su nuevo trabajo, a sus nuevos amigos y a su (a lo mejor) nuevo novio, el verano de Scarlett promete, finalmente, ser de lo más interesante.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2008

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Maureen Johnson

60 books14.9k followers

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Profile Image for Lucy.
102 reviews1,813 followers
March 1, 2011
Suite Scarlett is about a girl who has just turned fifteen. Scarlett lives with her mother, father, two sisters, and her older brother in a hotel in Manhattan. The hotel is more or less just scrapping by. This is emphasized in the opening scene where her parents prepare her birthday breakfast, having let a very capable cook go due to budget cutbacks.

The gifts Scarlett receives from her family are meant to give us indicators of their personality or, if they are lacking a personality, their finances. Unfortunately, this means they give us very little information about Scarlett, which is a really weird throwback of the scene. Her parents give Scarlett her first cell phone. Everyone in the free world apparently has one except Scarlett, which is a statement on their finances. Lola, her older sister, gives Scarlett a slightly used expensive red lipstick she got from her job in a high end cosmetic store. The color suits Scarlett, which again tells us Lola really knows what she's doing more than anything about Scarlett's preferences. Her selfish little sister rather selfishly gives her an expired ice cream coupon. Spencer, her brother, gives her a coupon for a piggyback ride around Central Park since he is broke. Of course, Lola's working a dead end job too and she managed an actual gift but whatever. The piggyback ride indicates Spencer's whimsical personality, lack of responsibility, and that he is extremly into physical activity.

You really don't ever learn a lot more about Scarlett despite the book being from her point of view. Her friends are all away on vacation or attempting to become productive citizens for their college applications. Which was sort of a whoa moment for me. Scarlett was fourteen half a minute ago. She basically has her entire high school experience ahead of her. It doesn't help much that both of her older siblings have taken 'gap' years so she might not even be applying for college in her senior year. What's up with the hyper 'fix my application now' issues? The best advice for kids preparing for college is to get good grades and do after school activities you enjoy, that way you can show genuine appreciation if the person interviewing you is interested. Volunteering places is an excellent approach, but I don't understand why these kids are scattered across the globe doing it. They're from Manhattan, not Kansas. There are numerous opportunities in NYC.

Maybe I'm being nit-picky here, but it bothered me. The author clearly wanted Scarlett to feel utterly abandoned -- either that or she couldn't handle a cast of characters that involved Scarlett's friends -- and it was written in a way that felt like everyone vacating Manhattan for the summer to go back home from a year of college. It was a case of the writing being simultaneously dumbed down to be YA and the situation being a little too not YA.

Anyway, I'm going to dislodge the fine tooth comb for a moment: the book isn't bad. It is really just okay. It isn't so awful that I'm going to be tempted to raid my local Barnes and Nobles and hide her books behind pre-law study guides, but it's not good enough warrant me reading another Johnson book... and I have low standards. I'll read anything. This is the second lackluster book with placid, personality-free characters I've read by Johnson and I'm just not interested in more.

The big plot jump is about a guest at the hotel. Scarlett's life gets super complicated when she ends up being the personal assistant for an odd, eccentric woman. It was a bit of a 'hilarity ensues' sort of plot. Everything that Scarlett says or does is either at this woman's direction, for her brother's benefit, or about following a beautiful boy around. Again, Scarlett's lacking in personality.

The sibling relationship between Spencer and his sisters didn't feel right to me. It was written with a sort of semi-incestuous touch, which I could have been okay with had it been intentional and, you know, somehow addressed. Instead we're supposed to take Spencer snarling at any man who goes near his sisters as completely and utterly normal. He implies Lola is a gold-digger behind her back and then not too subtly to her face. I believe his exact phrasing was telling Scarlett to never date 'a checkbook.' This obviously puts a strain on Lola and Spencer's relationship, but he's astonished when she cries about it later. She's eighteen years old and this is more likely than not the longest relationship of her life and you're taking a piss on it every twenty seconds. It made me really dislike him when by and large I think I was supposed to find him to be charming and a bit of a rascal.

Scarlett and Spencer's relationship is even weirder. I know Maureen Johnson doesn't have siblings. (I've poked around on her blog before reading her books.) I can forgive a bit of this fumbling but not enough to really feel like their relationship was okay. Spencer stomps around half-jealous when Scarlett starts dating one of his friends because it takes her attention off of him. Basically, Scarlett has been his audience, giggling and praising him for most of their lives, and he does not want to share. (Um ew.) He is also, more reasonably, upset because if Scarlett and his friend break up it will ruin HIS PLAY. Of course, the fact that Scarlett is constantly making HIS PLAY possible (along with sacrificing a lot of stuff for him) is totally glossed over. Her whoring ways are ruining his CAREER...

(Also, minor side quibble here, but how did he get offered a culinary scholarship if he can't cook -- it's stated several times that no one in the house can -- and he has no interest in it.)

Eventually, Spencer punches her non-boyfriend, kissed a couple of times friend. She never asked him to hit anyone or get involved in her life. He just did it on his own. So really no one interfered with HIS PLAY except him and maybe the city of New York (the play gets shut down several times because of zoning issues.)

All of Spencer's behavior is portrayed as a-okay. Scarlett stayed out two hours past curfew. He refuses to speak to her after it even though she's covered for him with his acting 'career' for weeks and also he once lied to their parents about a romantic liaison for an ENTIRE weekend. The double standard made my head hurt and it wasn't the only one. I hated Spencer when all was said and done.

I tried to consider that having all those sisters warped him a little bit, but I couldn't sell myself on it. I've got a brother who grew up surrounded by girls. My dad died when he was young and it was just my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and me. We've taught him about: never commenting on a girl's weight, that it is okay to get his eyebrows waxed if he's got a situation, and to stop and say we look nice when we're dressed up to go out no matter how he thinks we actually look. I learned that: who he dates is his own business, even if I meet six different girls in a two week time span, and if I was going to come home really late I need to turn on the lights and not skulk around because he will come charging out of his room with a baseball bat. The weird co-dependency of the Spencer-Scarlett relationship never appeared anywhere in my life. However, the relationships between Scarlett and her sisters were much more realistically portrayed and interesting.

Again, the plot more or less happens around Scarlett. Most of the time when she has an opportunity to do something she reacts like a deer in headlights or blindly follows someone else's advice. I didn't see a lot of difference between her and the main character of 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

I really regret buying The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson now. It's sitting on my shelf, giving me the finger. Her writing style will never be on my favorites list. It's whimsy over substance and the character development makes a kiddie pool look deep. I might read the sequel to this book because unlike in a lot of paranormal romances there is actually material for a second book and I'm sorta interested in the fate of the hotel. I'm not rushing out to buy it though because I don't give a fig about Scarlett or her relationships. If someone hands it to me I'll read it otherwise... nope. I don't expect a lot out of the second book or any real improvements in Johnson's writing, character development, or story telling. I think she's definitely as set in her ways as they come, like Meg Cabot but less talented.
Profile Image for Rosianna.
75 reviews
June 2, 2008
A brilliant book; I found myself drawn in by the witty, intelligent Scarlett who even possessed shades of English sarcasm, a quality I love in protagonists! The setting, the progressively deteriorating Hopewell Hotel in the centre of New York City was the perfect location for this funny, endearing and generally wonderful story which didn't put a damper on my lifelong dream of living in a hotel. The best aspect of this story wasn't the humour or setting, however, but the fantastic characterisation, especially of the siblings. Johnson perfectly depicts family dynamic and relationships in a book that you really ought to read.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
December 13, 2008
I would give this a 2.5, simply because the last, oh, 200 pages made me laugh from how ridiculous it was.

Johnson's writing style irritated me to no end. She has no sense of how to write from the voice of a 14 or 15 year old in this book. I am actually annoyed I chose to read this book first, as others have said her work is great (perhaps this one is not representative). And, before I dig into my real issues with the story, let me start by stating it is clearly a poor decision to put someone who is clearly 19 or 20 on the cover representing Scarlett.

So, where to begin?

Why does it take 100 pages for a plot to begin? Why is it that the guest, Ms. Amberson, is the one who begins the plot? Who is she anyway? Why is she there? Sure we get some hints that unravel as the story ends, but, really, why should I care as a reader? I don't care about Scarlett at all and clearly, no one else but her brother Spencer does either (although she mentions having friends, I would suspect any 15 year old girl in NYC would have more than the 5 hiply-named rich kids who are traipsing around the world as friends). To be totally honest, the only character in the entire book to have anything interesting going on is Lola. If the story were written about her, I may have enjoyed it. The youngest sister, Marlene, is just a stock character serving as a "problem" throughout the story. She's nothing but the sick kid who caused the family to go poor. Boo hoo. I don't care about Marlene, as she is simply an irritating member of an already irritating story, and I feel she gets that treatment throughout. At least Johnson could have made her more of an important character to make the whole Leukemia-powerkids-poorhouse creating monster gain some sort of empathy from the reader. I just think she's a nuisance.

The book masquerades as a young adult novel, but really, it's a poor attempt to both write about something cool (growing up in a hotel) and about working for a demanding crazy woman (ala "Devil Wears Prada" or any other story of that NYC-based ilk) while also trying to develop an absolutely absurd story about a girl who is way too in love with her older brother. I'm not even sure how to classify the story, nor would I be sure how to sell it to a reader. It's funny because of how ludicrous it is, but that's not the goal of the story -- it's ludicrous because I've read a lot and just can identify a fish when I see it. Now, I could have given Johnson credit for a hilariously absurd story....IF IT BEGAN BEFORE PAGE 100. But up until page 100, we have Scarlett being madly in love with Spencer and not much else. And there's no build up to absurdity. It's like Johnson wrote two separate short stories and tried to string them together. It wasn't seamless.

Can I return to the fact I can't buy the story of Scarlett and Spencer being such good siblings? There are parts I found downright incestuous. Also, Eric is 18 and wants to kiss 15 year old Scarlett? That's sick, too. I don't care how much girls dream about dating older boys at that age, but no older boy (especially a SOUTHERN boy, as is repeated throughout) would want a 15 year old. Eesh.

Honestly, this is a book that Johnson should have rewritten entirely and centered it around bored uptown NYC housewives. It would have been more realistic and easier to find humorous (or serious...). I'm sorry to have read this story first because now I'm going to be thinking of this as representative of her work. I read she's creating a sequel. I can't even imagine how!

Sometimes, I can forgive a horrible story for good writing, and sometimes I can do the reverse. This one, sadly, has both against it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for rhea.
172 reviews11 followers
September 9, 2011

This book was cute and I in no way mean that condescendingly. If I was in high school this series may have been my favorite and I would pass it around to friends, do I know any teens of the right age now? Scarlett is the least annoying 15 year old I've ever read in a book, that I can remember. She was real, I would've been friends with her or maybe I would've been her. Her emotions, thoughts, worries, etc. were realistic and not just her, her 3 siblings were very real too. There's a romance in the story, but not in the way YA books have made me hate it before. Maureen Johnson had a way of working in pop-culture without it being overbearing and a way with words that made you feel 15 again. It is clearly written with girls in mind, but boys would enjoy it to, actually a boy lent me the book. I won't move onto the 2nd book unless the same friend has it to lend me or who knows the library looks more and more done everyday, maybe I'll read it from there. It isn't necessary though, the book works on its own. It has its drama and the world comes crashing on her all at once, but clears up very realistically. The book could very well stand on it's own and I like that. I'd read more by Johnson, she has a little bit of quirk to her that I like. I'm glad to know I haven't grown out of all YA books, even if I should.

Profile Image for Steph (Reviewer X).
90 reviews121 followers
January 28, 2009
Reposted from my original blog post, here.

Y’all, I think there’s something inherently wrong with me, because I had never, ever read a page upon which MJ bestowed her glorious talent prior to this made of awesome 300+-page collection of MJ scribe.

I know.

As I have said many, many, many times before here and everywhere else where I am present and books are discussed (or I turn the conversation over to books), there’s no better way to enamor me than a great, well written and developed cast of characters. Why stop at three dimensions? I’m all about the layers. Similarly, why stop with a single, lone embodiment of brilliancy?

So, when you do what Maureen Johnson did here—which reminded me of what Steve Kluger did in My Most Excellent Year— you get my utmost attention, respect, awe, and support. I am at your mercy.

First and foremost, we’re introduced to possibly one of the absolute best sibling combinations in all of YA: Spencer, Lola, Scarlett and Marlene.

Spencer is an out-of-work, nineteen-year-old actor trying to catch his lucky break (or at least a casting as an extra— anything). Lola is a more mature and dainty eighteen-year-old, but for all her acquiescent attitude and focus, she’s got a lot of intensity brewing “behind those hazel eyes” which aren’t really hazel but I needed a pop culture reference because I feel I don’t do that enough. Scarlett is the 3rd-person focus (hey! I liked a 3rd person POV book!) of the book; she’s a efficient, serious, mature, and mercifully non-whiny and totally relatable fifteen-year-old. Marlene is a bitchy cancer survivor eleven-year-old who drove me bonkers but she was also devilish in that precious spoiled-kid way.

Those four rocked my world. I could’ve read about their laundry-day routine for all I cared, if only to see what kind of hilarious remark would escape Spencer’s mouth once he caught sight of Lola’s granny panties peeking out of her pants as she bent down to put her basket of regular panties in the wash. He’s right up there with Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, TJ and Andy from My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, and Jamie from Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, in my list of favorite male characters. Here’s a great exchange:

“Chip has a boat. Fancy boat,” Spencer went on. “And he did promise Marlene a ride.”

“This is my ex-boyfriend we’re talk about,” she [Lola] said.

“I know,” Scarlett said. “It’s asking a lot. I’m not asking you to get back together with him...”

“She’s definitely not asking that...” Spencer cut in.

“This is just asking him to take a little boat ride,” Scarlett finished.

“You mean you want me to use him.”

“Stop it,” Spencer said. “You’re making me love you more.”

(Spencer no-likey Chip, by the by.)

Another thing I thought was super well done was Spencer and Scarlett’s close-knit relationship. They had a special bond neither had with their other siblings, and I’m very familiar with that because it’s the exact same way I am with my brother. Right down to his overprotectiveness when it comes to other guys. Love.

(Also, Spencer’s would-be love interest in this one—if she weren’t so damn annoying—is named Stephanie! It’s a sign!)

Ah, and perhaps my favorite character above all isn’t even a component of the Fantastic Four. There was this prima donna has-been starlet who ran around bossing everyone around in the hotel, Mrs. Amberson, and she ruled (in all possible ways). Here’s a ditzy, flaky character who has a lot of power and isn’t afraid to royally fuck things up from time to time. Great for conflict.

Oh and I just have to add in somewhere that I hated Eric, Scarlett’s lovebird. He reminded me of an ex, with his calculating approaches and scheming masked to look innocent and I thought he was an ass and I hope Scarlett does what needs to be done. But she’ll probably require more lovable slapping from me (and doubtlessly many other readers) before getting there.

And FINALLY, I loved Maureen’s witty use of language. Behold:

Scarlett picked up the Empire Suite key from the table.

“I need a plan,” she said to it. “Something needs to give. What do I do?”

The key did not answer, because keys generally do not speak. This was probably a good thing, because if it
had replied, Scarlett’s problems would have taken on a new level of complexity.

And that, she did not need.

See? Love.

Although, in the subject of Maureen’s writing, I would have loved to understand why she used ellipses in spots where em-dashes would’ve fit better. The dot-dot-dot kind of worried me for a second.


There was a lot of theatrics in this one, many theater references and such, which, in conjunction with the great characters, is what reminded me of My Most Excellent Year. I’d recommend it to anyone, old or new, jaded or naïve, happy or depressed. You need this one.

So, easy grade: A.
Profile Image for Angelc.
422 reviews51 followers
December 31, 2009
Scarlett Martin's large family runs and lives in the Hopewell Hotel in Manhattan. The Hopewell has seen better days and the family will do what it takes to keep the business afoot. Scarlett feels like the only one of her friends who actually stayed in Manhattan for the summer. But she won't be bored long, thanks to a new guest, the glamorous Mrs. Amberson, checking in.

I loved Scarlett's relationship with her family, especially the tight bond with her older brother, Spencer. The characters and relationships were so well developed and believeable. It's so interesting to read about the family dynamics.

The plot was definitely different than I thought it would be, in a good way. Since Spencer is an actor, a lot of the story revolves around theater. This was a very appealing topic to me, and a great surprise.

Maureen Johnson has a fantastic sense of humor with lots of sarcasm and witty quotes. Her writing is very smooth and fast paced.

The only thing that prevented this book from getting 5 stars from me was that sometimes I didn't like the Scarlett character. She was a bit cold and selfish sometimes, especially in her treatment of her little sister who had battled cancer. This is the only complaint that I had about the book.

Overall the book was very entertaining with no slow parts. The subject was unique and not at all predictable.

Reviewed for http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com/

126 reviews55 followers
December 28, 2015

This book, fellow readers, is a disgrace to the magnificent term 'YA Contemporary' that I hold above all else. Suite Scarlett disappointed me on so many grounds, I don't know where to start. This was wrong in all possible proportions and I might juST HURL THE BOOK ACROSS THE ROOM.

1. The culprit: Maureen Johnson. After reading Let It Snow and absolutely adoring Johnson's story because of how stinkingly cute it was, I expected something similar from this book. Let's just say, it didn't even come close. Pretty conflicted on whether I should give her other books a try or not, but I might pick one up in the future when my anger simmers down a bit, because guys, THIS WAS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR.

2. The deceiving writing style. In the beginning, when I felt that there was something off with the writing style, I just chalked it up to my inability to read books since the past few months because of this book slump I was in. However, when I got deeper into the book, I realised that it was too elaborate. And believe me, I mean that in the worst way possible. It was a pain to read and slowed down the pace of reading by quite a few notches. Though, yes, there's absolutely nothing wrong with fancy and nicely-down writing styles – I mean, take Brandon Sanderson, or Sarah J. Maas, or Cassandra Clare – but do you sense a pattern there? They're all high-fantasy authors. And no, this sort of writing style was not the write choice for a contemporary.
Furthermore, Maureen definitely needs to brush up her skills when it comes to teenagers. Scarlett's voice was very immature and sometimes too mature for a 15 year-old. Just didn't come off how I'm sure the author wanted it to.
Johnson's also tried really hard to make it seem like all dramatic and jazzy with the whole theatre idea, and I think it might've had worked if only it would've had been executed properly. Sadly, that was not the case.

3. The character development, or lack thereof. I can't even express how underdeveloped Scarlett's character was. Whatever she said, always just said something about someone else. Yes, I did get to know that her sister, Lola, was a perfectionist. Her brother, Spencer, was charged and livelier than life, and her little sister, Marlene, was well, mean. But Scarlett? Nope. Not a clue. Not only did I not like how her siblings and every other side character had such a structured, boxed personality, I hated even more the fact that Scarlett, our main character, didn't even have one of those. She was completely devoid of any of her own opinions and lacked individualism.
Also, why for the love of God are Scarlett's "friends" travelling the world doing community service? Each one of them? All these details seemed hasty on the author's part. Seemed like she just wanted to show Scarlett had friend but didn't actually physically want them to be a part of the story. Not only that, but Mrs. Amberson. I absolutely hated her. She was the eccentric, too-lost-in-her-own-world, extremely rich, all-too-sophisticated lady. There was something very wrong with her and above anything else, I just found her character plain annoying. Sucks that she had the most screen time in the whole book.

4. The insta-love, hELP. Sample this:
Eric's generosity, his praise of Spencer's talent...these were very endearing qualities. Scarlett tried to tell herself that this was what she liked about him, and that it wasn't just his almost disturbing physical perfection.

Yeah well, Scarlett thinks all this 2 hours after they just met. 2 hours.

Also, remind me again why a 19 year-old extremely good-looking actor falls for a 15 year-old extremely dull girl? As I'm sure you can tell, I wasn't a fan of the pairing. At all.

Well, I guess I'll just leave it at that. I can rant for hours about the problems I had with this book but that's all I can say right now without it getting too spoiler-y. But honestly, do yourself a favour, and don't read this book. All my hopes of it being a cute broadway-esque NYC-set contemporary romance just left me disappointed. However, if you do have to read it at all, go into it with zero expectations as compared to my sky-high ones and you might like it better.

'Kay then, that's it, bye.
Profile Image for Danielle.
49 reviews
September 8, 2015
*3.5 stars*

At first I didn't really like this because I didn't like the characters. It started out as a 2 star book but as I was reading it more it got way way better. I really liked Spencer and Eric. Marlene was kinda odd and Lola was ok. Scarlett I quite liked too.
The story was interesting. I liked that it was about a play etc. I did really think that mrs Amberson was annoying but I wasn't really annoyed by her anymore towards the end.
I will be picking up Scarlett Fever because I want to know how this series is continued & finished!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
79 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2008
Um...well. This is one of those books about a young girl who doesn't know how beautiful she is and has a crush on her older brother's impossibly good looking friend. If you like that sort of thing then there you go.
Unfortunately Scarlett is the least interesting character in this book. Her family owns an old hotel in New York City and the best parts of the book come from her interactions with Mrs. Amberson, the hotel's eccentric guest, and Scarlett's siblings.
Profile Image for audrey.
661 reviews64 followers
October 13, 2018
It's like someone updated The Westing Game for me.

First of all, I hope y'all stopped and read both the dedication and the introduction because for me, they exemplified how authors can use those two tools to just let their freak flags fly.

Any author who writes the following passage:

On the morning of the tenth of June, Scarlett Martin woke up to the sound of loud impromptu rap penetrating her thin bedroom wall from the direction of the bathroom next door. Scarlett had been trying to ignore this noise for fifteen minutes by incorporating it into her dream, but it was a difficult thing to weave the constantly repeated phrase, 'I got a butt-butt, I got a mud hut' into a dream about trying to hide a bunch of rabbits in her T-shirt drawer.

I am tempted to pelt with cookies. Seeing how this passage very conveniently appears at the very beginning of the book, I also know to read this book only in places where snortling will not be unduly disruptive.

Readers, I LOVED IT. Bring your hate and your disdain in comments if you need, because I am in a serious RELATIONSHIP with this book and its sequel which has a small dog in it and I plowed ahead and read it anyway instead of hiding like the wiener I usually am.

I loved Spencer, who, I hope, in the movie version will be played by DJ Qualls. I loved how fifteen Scarlett was, and how she got mown down by her own love life and laid out smashed on the tracks of her own bad decisions.

I loved how New York the book was, seeing how I had just read a book for a review that was nominally set in Manhattan but had people driving around to the park and no muggers and things. Whereas by contrast this book has:

A crowded New York subway car in the summer is a wonderful place to meet new people. There is no decorum, no breathing room, and often, no deodorant. You survive by keeping yourself small and taking short maintenance breaths and making them last, like divers do.

I loved Mrs. Amberson and how grand and chaotic she was, and how evil, because it was freeing that she could be that evil. Speaking of evil, making the cancer-stricken child a villain was a stroke of genius indicative of an author with balls roughly the size of the Elgin Marbles.

I loved the hotel, because I suspect I am predisposed to love buildings that are breaking slowly and/or have ghosts. I would've loved a little more detail on the historical plaque-like things that appeared between parts of the book and more of them, but I am greedy like that.

I loved how many quotes I had to painstakingly copy into my journal.

I did think at one point that Scarlett and Spencer were maybe *ahem* a little too close for brother and sister but then I decided that V.C. Andrews basically ruined everything for an entire generation with that sort of thinking and cast it aside.

Eric wasn't much to like simply because he was the goatlike teenage boy love interest, but at least he rode a unicycle so he had some distinguishing characteristic. And at least Spencer punched him.

I love the cover of the first edition hardcover book, even though I couldn't afford that version of the book and bought the paperback with the key on instead because I had. to. have. this. book. It (and the sequel) were able to bump two other books off the shelf at the very head of my bed with their awesomeness. I loved Spencer's commentary about unicycles and bushes and Central Park. I loved that he was the skinny theatre geek who got all the chicks. I loved Lola's crazy understated love for Ninety-Eight and how evil the other siblings were to him.

I'm sure this book is horrible for other people and that I overlooked plot holes through which elephants could stampede, possibly with chains of acrobats riding on their backs, but for some reason I just-- there wasn't any part of this book where I wasn't hanging on every word and giggling like a wee fiend.

I just hope at some point I have a birthday and someone gives me one of the Hopewell suites.
Profile Image for Tina.
444 reviews456 followers
August 4, 2011
Original post at One More Page

I've heard a lot about Maureen Johnson from YA contemporary circles, but somehow, I never really got around to getting her books. This almost feels like a sin for someone who loves contemporary YA as much as I do. So at the back of my mind, I have this little to-buy list that includes one of Maureen Johnson's books in case I wanted to splurge on something, but winning a giveaway during Armchair BEA saved me from spending and instead, I got an audiobook of Suite Scarlett , which some of my blogger friends recommend.

Scarlett Martin has just turned 15, and as with her older siblings Spencer and Lola, she was given the Empire Suite in Hopewell Hotel, their family business, to take care of. This is a great honor, however, business isn't exactly as booming as it was before in the Hopewell, so Scarlett's dreams of getting a summer job was put on hold since she had to help out at home. Things turn interesting, though, when rich, world-traveler and theater actress Mrs. Amy Amberson comes along and rents the Empire Suite. Pretty soon, Scarlett becomes her personal assistant and a part of some harebrained schemes that involve directing and producing a play, conning a nemesis, and a possible summer romance.

Like everyone I know who's read this, my favorite part of this book is the sibling relationship of Scarlett and Spencer. I love brother-sister relationships because I can relate to it so much. Scarlett and Spencer remind me of my own relationship with my older brother. They're probably closer, of course, but their banter and their instinct to help each other is ingrained in every brother-sister relationship out there, I think. I liked how Spencer can tell things just by looking at his sister and how he has this instinct to protect her even from his friend. I also liked the other two Martins, even if I saw them as the "enemies" at the start of the book because they're at odds with the brother-sister tandem.

The story isn't really that monumental, but it has enough elements to make it just the right amount of crazy. I don't think people will actually get into as much chaos as Scarlett did in her summer, but the setting helped in making it believable. I bet if this story was set outside of NYC or in anything other than Hopewell, I wouldn't have accepted the craziness as easily as I did here. Suite Scarlett makes me want to go to New York City (not that I haven't wanted to go there for the past years now) and go to the places described in the book.

I really enjoyed reading/listening to Suite Scarlett . It's fun, light and it's easily one of those books that will cheer you up after reading a depressing or heavy book. I'm curious about Maureen Johnson's other books now. :)

This should be for another post, but since this is my first audiobook (for a long time now, anyway), I should mention it in this review, too. The audiobook I wanted to listen to was usually one with different voices for the characters, so the first time I listened to this, I had a hard time with the way the reader changers her voice for every character. It was kind of weird because I could tell it was still her and I couldn't detach myself from that. It took a while to get used to it, but when I did, I had to marvel at how different each voice sounded after all. I'm pretty sure this won't be my last audiobook. It's not a conventional way to read, but it is definitely helpful in the gym. ;)
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews1,013 followers
September 25, 2008
Somewhere in between the release of Girl at Sea and Suite Scarlett, I'm embarrassed to admit that I think I may actually have forgotten, for just a second, how funny Maureen Johnson is. I mean the hunching your shoulders, tongue caught between your teeth, giggling kind of funny. I read her blog regularly, so I shouldn't be a bit surprised. But Suite Scarlett was even funnier than her previous books. It was like concentrated Essence of Johnson: charmingly and unrepentantly hilarious. They really should bottle it somehow. I also have to say how much I like the cover. This is just how I pictured Scarlett, right down to the platinum curls, red lipstick, and Lola's little black dress.

Scarlett Martin's life is slightly different from most 15-year-old New Yorkers' lives. She lives in the Hopewell--an old Art Deco hotel her family has run for generations. On the morning the book opens, Scarlett celebates her birthday and learns that they've had to let go the last employees they had and she, along with her three siblings and two parents, will now be expected to keep the mouldering old place running on their own. The Martins are good at keeping up appearances. Oldest daughter Lola works at the makeup counter at an upscale department store and maintains a relationship with boyfriend Chip, otherwise known to the family as "#98" for his inclusion at the bottom of the top 100 happening bachelors in the city. Grin. Brother Spencer is a desperately aspiring actor gifted in physical comedy. Spencer is always mock falling down stairs and into doors. He is on a deadline to acquire a "real" acting job within the next week or his parents are shipping him off to culinary school so he can be the hotel cook upon graduation. With Scarlett's help, however, Spencer is determined to avoid this fate worse than death.

The genius of this book is the Martin siblings. The four of them are utterly believable, sympathetic, and charming. And five pages in, it is absolutely impossible not to like them. Not to cross your fingers and hope for them. Not to wish they were yours. Add to this charming foursome an unadulterated dose of Johnson's sparkling humor and you've got a winner. One of my favorite lines early on in the book when Scarlett is looking out her window:
In a city with so many different types of people and so much competition, mornings were an even playing field where no one looked good or knew where anything was. There was the woman who changed her outfit four times each morning and practiced different poses in the mirror. Two windows over, the obsessive-compulsive guy was cleaning all the burners on his stove. A flight down, there was Anything for Breakfast guy who would (as his name implied) eat anything for breakfast. Today he was pouring melted ice cream over cereal. Another neighbor, a woman of about seventy, was completely nude on the rooftop patio of the adjacent apartment building. She was reading The New York Times and carefully balancing a cup of coffee by squeezing it between her thighs, which was a completely unacceptable sight at this time in the morning. Or really, any time.

Lol. So if you're a devoted follower or if you've never read a Maureen Johnson book before, this is definitely the one that you want.
Profile Image for Kim Kaso.
298 reviews60 followers
August 14, 2020
I really enjoy this author, and I very much enjoyed this book. Over the weekend I listened to a podcast on Stagecraft with Tom Hiddleston discussing a variety of topics, including Shakespeare & roles he had done. At the time the interview was recorded, he had recently done Hamelet with Kenneth Branagh directing. I sent a link to some friends, and ended up in a lengthy discussion about Shakespeare. That night, I picked up this book as a counterweight to the news of the day, and I found myself immersed in an alternate take on putting on a production of aforementioned play. It was delightful and has entertained me over the last 2 days. The characters are very well written, and the sibling relations are right on the money. I loved the story, and knew there was a published sequel which made me happy. I am even happier to know there is a third book in the works. This was just what I needed to chase away the emotional storm clouds,high jinks, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on unicycles, and life running a down-at-the-heels boutique hotel in NYC. So much to love. Very highly recommended. (My 114th book of the year, attained my yearly goal—will keep reading to see how many more I can read before 12/31/2020).
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
January 5, 2010
Dear Maureen Johnson, I worship at your alter. Your books completely charm me.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson deals with what happens to Scarlett Martin on her fifteenth birthday, when as family tradition dictates, she gets a key to a suite in the family hotel and must take care of the suite and whomever stays in the suite.
Read the rest of my review
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,680 followers
May 26, 2008
Maureen Johnson does it again! This book was fabulous in so many ways that I've been raving about it to everyone I know. I don't even want to describe it, lest I spoil any of the wonderful surprises. But I will say this: my favorite line was, "Only because I'm afraid of you and your panty sandwich."
Profile Image for Rain Misoa.
510 reviews70 followers
July 10, 2011
Wow... I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. It was actually pretty good. This is my first novel that I've read by Maureen Johnson and I am not disappointed in picking this book up. Mind you, there are some things that I found a bit annoying but that didn't deter me from finishing or liking this book. The plot had me hooked! I wanted to know what was going to happen with the play of Hamlet, what was happening between Mrs. Amberson and her "past," and see how everything was going to be pulled together. There was craziness around every corner; it made the book that much more entertaining. The characters were well-developed, particularly Marlene, and having the book set in New York brought so many loving memories back to me (I used to live nearby New York) made the book that much more meaningful to me. I really enjoyed this book! It was such a great read.

Maureen Johnson is a fantastic writer. It's so easy to get sucked into her book. She streams language along so easily, making the words form beautiful sceneries in your head. Man, was I blown away by her writing! She created a great realistic fiction story and made it interesting to read. I normally don't read realistic fiction because I find them to be boring. I much more prefer my fantasy type books, thank you very much. However, the story of the Hopewell Hotel, the financial troubles of the Martin family, the antics of Mrs. Amberson, and the production of Hamlet in jeopardy just pulled me in. I don't know how Johnson did it but congrats to her! I am amazed she was able to get a fantasy lover to enjoy this type of book. Simply in awe! Not to mention she knows New York like the rounds and the texture of a blue-coated donut. (Man, I'm hungry...) *Drools* ... *Ahem* ANYWAY! Reading this book really made me miss New York. For someone who was born and raised very close to the New York scene, this book brings a whole new meaning to the word "nostalgia." Oh, God, did I want to just drop everything and go back to that bustling city! MOMMY! DADDY! TAKE ME BACK UP NORTH!!! DX *Sniffs* Forgive my outbursts... I just really miss the city. Anyway, I really liked the way this book was written and the plot was very much engaging. I enjoyed how those two elements was woven together. The only thing I have a problem with are the characters, or really, just two.

Our main lead is Scarlett. She's your average teenage girl that wants to make something out of her life. She's feeling a bit down because all of her friends are off doing great things whilst she's suck... doing nothing. She was actually a character that I liked. I didn't think she was anything amazing (she was pretty dull... nothing special) but she didn't annoy the hell out of me, which to me is always a plus. (Also, it helped that I was able to relate to her. I know what it's like being left behind whilst everyone moves on. I liked her because I knew her pain and struggle.) All that changed, however, when she gets involve with a guy. His name: Eric. Ugh... I became really annoyed when she became somewhat stalkerish with him. But I REALLY started hating her when she tossed out her brother for him. Seriously, she was like, "But he likes me!" and all that stupid crap girls say when they are stupidly in love. Her brother, who I am very fond of, was just looking out for her and she was being a prick. I don't ever get why! Eric is not that amazing! He's pretty? Really? That's all he has going for him? Because, in all honesty, he's a jerk. Here he is summed up in a few words: Cheat. Jerk. Two-timer. User. Ill-faith. I can go on and on. You want to know the sad part? He admitted he was a jerk... AND SCARLETT STILL WANTED TO BE WITH HIM!!! UGH! THE STUPIDITY!!! I CANNOT HANDLE IT! *BARFS!!!* Yeah... I started to hate Scarlett as soon as she hurt her brother the way she did. I can't believe she did that to him. Oh, reader... if only I could tell you what she did. It's so disgusting... ugh... and she couldn't even redeem herself even a little at the end of the book. She helps out but the fact that she still was thinking about being with that creep, makes me want to vomit. >_< I hate both Scarlett and Eric...

Ugh... let's drop this sad bunch and move onto better characters... or semi-better characters. I want to talk about Marlene... God, I hate this little brat. She was way too spoiled and she used a certain issue she has (can't say... spoiler) to make those around her feel sorry for her. It annoyed the hell out of me. I thought that she had no right... she was no longer involved in said issue so the whole, "WAH! LOOK AT ME!!!" was just getting old and annoying. I wanted someone to smack the crap out of her... then she gets put in her place... and she turned out to be a decent character. I guess after going through hell and having everyone at your beck and call... will make you into an evil demon. I still don't really like her... but I don't hate her either. It was mostly the parents' fault. Her parents were your generic parents... who couldn't cook to save a starving baby kitty to save their lives. (Redundant, ne?) They were okay but, like Scarlett, they weren't anything too amazing. They mostly got in the way, really. XP Lola was the eldest sister and she was okay. A bit on the perfectionist side but other than that, I liked her. For some reason she's in love with some rich dude... but... I don't mind him as much as I thought I would. Chip, rich dude, seems genuinely in love with her. The only thing that bothers me is that he thinks he can solve everything with money. *Sighs* Damn these rich people... *Haruhi moment* Oh, well... can't win them all.

Let's talk about characters I absolutely love!!! Mrs. Amberson is one of them. She's such a kickass lady. She's into a whole bunch of health stuff (which I love) and she's a person that won't take "NO!" for an answer... BUT IN A GOOD WAY! I love how she does things. She plays up her acting roles and it makes her stand out. I love how she works for what she wants. She not a person to take anything lying down. Oh, no! This woman is a fighter and I love her for it. She's incredibly knowledgeable about the theater which came in handy! Especially for Spencer because she's the one who was the biggest help to him of all! Only thing I didn't like about her: She flirted with my man! (I'm just joking! I love her.) But that's right! I must rant about how awesome Spencer is! (Oh, no... not another one of your crushes...) ...what the hell are you doing here? And you just show up at the end of the review, too? (Just get on with it, Suzie.) "Suzie?" Why "Suzie?" If anything, I'm more of an "Roxanne." (Rain! The review!) Oh... right... so Spencer! Oh. My. Bloody. God!!! This man is just so sexy! Epic! Wonderful! He was so cute throughout the entire book! He was a very gentle brother who had a gorgeous personality. He was so funny; every time he used to open his mouth, I started cracking up! Plus, he's a flirt! I love flirts! The good kind, not the bad. Not the kind that flirt to hurt people's feelings. The kind that flirt just to have fun. He flirted a lot with Mrs. Amberson which was freaking hilarious! God, I love him! He's the definition of a man! A very fun... kind of loony man... BUT A MAN NONETHELESS!!! I could marry that boy and make him mine in a heartbeat... Oh, and he's just so wonderful! Nothing I say can show how wonderful he is. I love how he cares for all of his sisters, even though his sisters are... blah. *Dreamy sigh* I can't wait to make that boy mine... *Drools* (Ugh... I'm going to hurl...) You're just jealous. (Finish the damn review already.) ...party-pooper.

Despite the fact that I hated a few of the characters, I had such a great time reading this book. I am so glad I decided to go ahead and pick this up. It was well worth the read. Johnson is a very talented writer. I will definitely be picking up more books by her in the future. If you want to read something light and fun, then I suggest this book. Just know that if you are not into girls acting stupid then you might want to murder someone. Other than that, enjoy the read! I can't wait to start reading Scarlett Fever because I would like to see what happens after this. Especially with Spencer! Oh, that boy has stolen my heart! I shall want to make him mine and squeeze him and pet him and hug him and love him and... *Continues for the rest of the week* (...ignore her. Just get the book and stop reading these sad excuses for a re--OOF! *Got desk thrown at his head*) *Angelic smile* Enjoy the book! See you soon!
Profile Image for pen.
23 reviews5 followers
August 10, 2011
A novel doesn't have to be perfect to make me think, and a hypothetical perfect novel might not even help me express myself the same way that this book did. So I guess what that might mean is that sometimes "good" is better than "perfect", and Maureen Johnson, don't take the three stars personally. They mean "good".

Part of what I enjoyed about my reading of Suite Scarlett is that it explored multiple traditions in modern literature. It might be marketed as a "girl book", and it probably is one, but it's other kinds of book too, and Johnson is skilled enough to not let its own marketing category define it.

I've read a lot of YA book bloggers opinions--many of them seem to think that genre doesn't imply style, i.e. YA literature is exactly like adult literature and that there are no meaningful distinctions between them besides the intended age range. I think that this is kind of silly, and misses the point. YA doesn't exist in a vacuum. Traditions in literature drive genres apart, no matter how non-different they originated, and there's nothing you can do about it. But this is a good thing! It doesn't mean that YA is inferior because its style is different--it only means that it's unique. This book does an excellent job in celebrating the uniqueness of the YA genre.

One of the defining elements of YA for me is the way that characters develop. It is not hard to imagine that in general, growing people will relate better to characters that are growing too. I feel like the growing/not growing dichotomy is the most important and most obvious way that YA authors show contrast between characters in their books. The question here is how does Scarlett's growth contrast against that of the characters that frame her, and does Johnson succeed in making this interesting, and the answer is yes.

So when I read Suite Scarlett, the whole time I'm working on figuring out why she's reacting the way to the change in her situation, and how this particular change is different because it's a "girl book" rather than if it wasn't. But where Maureen Johnson succeeded in terms of form, for me, was that the pieces of literary language that make it a "girl book" were really only taking place in the scenery. Rather than being the defining elements of Scarlett's growth as a character, most of the stereotypical content simply served as Scarlett's reward. So what I'm saying is that Scarlett's situation, and her successes and failures, and even her desires and relationships with others were something that any reader could relate to, and that's why I'm still suggesting that you read it, even if you're a boy.

Another aspect of Scarlett that resonated with me was its parallel development of internal conflicts against different types of chaos. As Scarlett's story begins she is in a typical place for a novel's protagonist: she is meeting the status quo but is still slightly disappointed with herself. Then, chaos is thrust upon her, and she panics and flounders around. But eventually, she embraces the constructive aspects of that chaos, overcomes the negative aspects, and by doing so surpasses the original source of the chaos and finds herself its master, or at least its equal.
There are at least three different plot-lines in Scarlett that the previous statement could be describing, and the way that they develop in parallel, interwoven with each other, intensifies the importance of every event that makes them up. Honestly this is the most incredible and intriguing aspect of the novel for me--despite any other feelings I have, it shows that Johnson definitely has some chops.

Whether Johnson intended to make some kind of Taoist point about the reconciliation of opposite types of energy--if you interpret Scarlett at the beginning of the novel as anti-chaotic, rather than neutral--or if she intended to merely make a statement about chaos alone, is difficult to say. I definitely look forward to reading Johnson's other novels (particularly the sequel to this one) in order to further explore her imagination concerning this type of conflict.

So, that's the good. As unlikely as it seems that she intended her novel to reinforce my positive feelings for eastern philosophy, they say you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

The less good is that I don't prefer the prose. But I'm using the word "prefer" there for a reason. I readily admit to being a complete snob about prose. Although by all means they do not dominate my reading habits, I seriously enjoy reading books that require extra effort just for me to parse the words into thoughts.

Maureen Johnson's prose in Suite Scarlett is extremely average. It doesn't cause me any distress or unwanted distraction but I don't feel like it's really an active part of the novel. I feel like it's the goal of some authors to make the prose as transparent as possible, so that you don't even notice it and the ideas just kind of appear fully formed in your imagination, like you're watching a movie, which can be good, but unfortunately it isn't the style I prefer. Instead, I feel like prose is a wonderful tool that the author could be using to make their work more interesting and multifaceted, but in this case it's just kind of lying there, neglected. But others disagree with me, and I'll readily admit that this is personal preference, albeit a preference I feel strongly about.

Ironically, the aspect of the book from which it gets its title is also the one that I remain the most indifferent towards: the setting. Scarlett takes care of a suite, in a hotel, in New York City. New York is barely explored by the plot, and was rarely used for imagery and mood--it seems to me that the only reason New York was chosen was because the plot required a city with an active theater scene. The hotel serves as a perfect excuse for much of the previously mentioned chaos introduced by the primary chaos-introducer, but the plot itself didn't require that Scarlett live there, just work there, with the possible exception of the payoff of Scarlett's development at the very end of the story.

On the other hand, having it set in a hotel was fun, and provided an excuse for many of the characters' attributes. Unlike the city as a whole, the hotel flavored the atmosphere pretty effectively. The problem might be that when someone brings up old New York hotels, the first thought that pops into my head isn't "how interesting!", but even still, I would have liked to hear more details in the description of Scarlett's particular suite. So while the setting added some flavor and color to the characters and plot, I wish it had been fleshed out a little bit more.

That pretty much wraps it up--despite anything I said to the contrary, I really enjoyed the read. I mean look at all these thoughts that this book caused me to think! Isn't that just as interesting as a book that was actually about those things? Even if Maureen Johnson's intent was simply to make me think about hotels and cute boys, she did a lot more than that. Her writing is fun, inspiring, and refreshing, therefore:

I recommend this book for anyone who loves giraffes who love giraffes.
Profile Image for Jone.
61 reviews
February 20, 2015
Fue un libro que adquirí en una tienda de un aeropuerto con la intención de empezar a leerlo durante un viaje de unas cuatro horas aproximadamente. No había oído nunca hablar de él, ni me sonaba tan siquiera la portada, el título o el argumento.
Sin ninguna referencia previa, comencé a leerlo. Los primeros capítulos de introducción a la historia, la situación y los personajes, eran simples. Se entendían bien y a pesar de algunos detalles poco relevantes, era una lectura ligera. A medida que iba avanzando, la historia tomaba un rumbo aburrido y lineal. En mis progresos se ve como he ido leyéndolo muy lentamente por la inmensa falta de interés, aunque también por falta de tiempo, todo cabe decir. Sin embargo, cuando un libro me enbauca, saco tiempo de donde sea. Tenía claro que me lo iba a acabar tardase el tiempo que tardase. Llegué a coger hasta manía a Scarlett, la protagonista, sin motivo alguno.

Hace unos días, sin embargo, llegué a la hoja 200, y a partir de ahí la historia da un giro y se vuelve más interesante, sucesos y cambios importantes, los cuales hacen que mi interés renazca y acabe por ejemplo de coger asco a Marlene y sin embargo de desear que Spencer también fuera mi hermano. No hay más que ver que desde el último progreso hasta ahora apenas ha pasado un día, y he conseguido leer aproximadamente la mitad del libro.

Es una historia bien planteada, pero bajo mi punto de vista, la escritora por alguna razón desconocida parecía que necesitase rellenar todas esas páginas con textos explicativos muy poco atrayentes y eso es precisamente lo que ha hecho que no haya disfrutado demasiado con este libro.

Creo recordar que es el primero de una posible saga. Dudo mucho que vaya a leerme el siguiente cuando lo publiquen, pero aún así no ha estado mal del todo. No es un libro el cual recomiende, a no ser que sea para alguien que no le importe saltarse la primera mitad de la historia. Repitiendo lo de antes, el argumento no está mal del todo, simplemente creo que ha fallado la forma o quizás la longitud con la que se ha redactado.
Profile Image for JoLee.
1,568 reviews59 followers
October 16, 2008
Scarlett's family lives in and operates a run-down hotel in New York City. The Martin family is in some financial trouble. The hotel isn't doing so well. It's an absolute money drain. Meanwhile, Spencer, the oldest child and only boy, is given an ultimatum from his parents--find a paying acting job in one week or take a scholarship at a culinary school. Scarlett gets to work helping her favorite sibling while juggling the antics of a very strange guest, Amy Amberson, who eventually gets involved with Spencer's career as well. Scarlett's two other siblings, her beautiful older sister Lola and younger terror-of-a-sister, Marlene, have problems of their own. Lola is dating rich Chip and her very middle-classness is getting in the way of their relationship. while, Marlene is a cancer survivor who is slightly bitter and extremely spoiled.

Spencer was definitely my favorite character, funny and charming. I couldn't really get into Eric. I thought he was way too old for Scarlett. I liked crazy Mrs. Amberson. I really enjoyed the "excerpts" from made-up books that introduced each section of the story by explaining the history of the Art Deco building. I just wasn't wowed by Scarlett or the story. It was just ok for me.
13 reviews
November 29, 2016
I was truly interested in this book when I started reading it. There were all kinds of different turns throughout the book that made it all the more intriguing. This book will catch your attention from the beginning and hold onto it until the very end.
Suite Scarlett is about a fifteen year old girl named Scarlett Martin. The Martin family owns the Hopewell Hotel in New York City and once you turn fifteen you have to take on some responsibility within the hotel. Scarlett is assigned the Empire Suite and has a guest, named Mrs. Amberson, for the entire summer that she is supposed to assist. When Mrs. Amberson arrives, there are many changes that Scarlett has to adjust to and ends up running around the city, getting involved in a little Shakespeare, and having her first sort-of boyfriend.
When I went to pick up this book I definitely expected there to be a lot of adventure since it was about a hotel in New York City, but the adventure that the book turned out to hold was way better than what I could’ve imagined. Overall, I really enjoyed the intriguing characters and adventures in this book and would recommend it.
8 reviews
April 2, 2014
To me this book was fun and exciting. Living in a hotel already sounded fun but the ordeals she goes through living with her siblings is homely and cute. Her connection to her brother is heart-warming and their love for each other is touching in a sense. The empathy you feel towards her given her situation really helps a person connect to her and all that happens to her. The whole idea of a not so secret love is thrilling and heat racing, giving Scarlett's life a fun twist to her already extraordinary day to day living. The guests and people she has to encounter in her New York Hotel are interesting and downright funny. The fact that one guest is helping her along her journey of finding herself and learning about what to do in some situations, gives the book almost another perspective to be aware of. Overall I truly enjoyed what this book had to offer and presented to me.
Profile Image for Ying.
192 reviews54 followers
January 11, 2014
This was another great book from Maureen Johnson with dynamic parts and suspenseful chapters. Scarlett was one of the richest, most developed characters in the story and I liked how Spencer was written. However, sometimes I felt the actions were too fast paced and that there weren't enough developing details. Overall, this was a good read and had me wishing for more at the last page.
Profile Image for Vir.
925 reviews130 followers
October 20, 2014
Un 3,5 en realidad

Suite Scarlett es una lectura sencilla, divertida, fresca y muy disparatada. Con unos personajes algo peculiares que vivirán situaciones de lo más rocambolescas, con las que conseguirán sacarnos un montón de carcajadas.

Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,818 followers
October 24, 2008
yaay! i loved it!!! :D maureen johnson rocks. like all of her other books, it was original and interesting, charming, enjoyable ... all that good happy stuff. i highly recommend this and all of her books. :)
Profile Image for Jase Cordova.
70 reviews5 followers
September 22, 2019
Me, every time the 18 year old love interest kisses the FRESHLY 15 year old main character: *sprays him with spray bottle* NO!

Otherwise, perfectly charming book with the classic Maureen wit. Glad I finally read it after owning it for years.
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,284 followers
October 21, 2011
Scarlet was an adorable character and I liked her a lot. Sadly this book didn't draw me in at all and halfway through I stopped reading.
Profile Image for Namratha.
1,071 reviews233 followers
March 28, 2014
SETTING : New York

A more precise SETTING : The Hopewell hotel on the Upper East Side. Family-run, the art deco hotel personified Jazz Age New York glamour. Sadly, all it personifies today is a pitiable lack of funds and staff.

HEROINE : Just turned fifteen Scarlett Martin. Scarlett is a fairly grounded teenager who helps her family keep the Hopewell in working condition. She has a closet dream of being a writer and a more urgent dream of not being flat broke. Scarlett has also been given the responsibility of handling the Empire Suite which is the jewel in the crown of Hopewell.

a) Spencer Martin : Scarlett’s tall, lean and endearingly crazy big brother. The king of physical comedy, Spencer, like thousands of other New York hopefuls, is a talented young struggling actor waiting for that one big and obviously elusive break.
b) Lola Martin : Scarlett’s blonde, beautiful and surprisingly non-vicious elder sister. Lola is perfect in every way. Kind, pretty, family-oriented, fun-loving and hardworking. AND she has the obscenely wealthy (but also, rather daft) boyfriend who showers her with obscenely wealthy gifts. Lola could be quite the nauseating b**** if she wanted to. But she isn’t.
a) Marlene Martin : Scarlett’s younger sister. Remember when I mentioned that the Martin family seemed to be peppered with perfectly well-behaved siblings. Yeah, no. There’s Marlene. Marlene is a recovery cancer patient. And she makes sure that nobody ever forgets it. She loves Lola (and her rich boyfriend), barely acknowledges Spencer’s presence and actively loathes Scarlett.

CONFLICT: Scarlett faces a hot, humid and friendless summer in the most energetic city in the world. She has also been informed by her parents that the family is flat broke. If a sudden and much needed miracle doesn’t drop into the Martin homestead, Scarlett has to be uncomfortably resigned to a bleak and uncertain future.

MUCH-NEED-MIRACLE (or is she?) : Enter Mrs. Amberson. Rich, eccentric, pilates-toned Mrs.Amberson is the new unexpected guest at The Hopewell. She has the Empire Suite and thus, by default, she has Scarlett. Scarlett to order, infuriate and generally frustrate. Will Mrs. Amberson be the answer to Scarlett’s woes? Or will she compound them?

REVIEW: Suite Scarlett is a cozy, snazzy and comfortable read. It has no mind-bending highs or boring lows. The story trudges along at a sprightly pace. The protagonist is likeable, efficient and basically good-natured. She cares for her family and has the greatest bond with her brother, Spencer. That’s what I liked best about the book. Scarlett and Spencer are a witty, winsome pair. They bounce inside jokes against each other, are privy to each other’s deepest hopes and disappointments and have a healthy relationship. The sibling bond never borders on being intrusive and almost always, brings a smile to the reader’s face. I adored Spencer. He is the kind of whimsical and yet quietly supportive brother that every young girl deserves.

I didn’t much care for Scarlett’s love life. Despite being the kind of multi-faceted individual that Scarlett was, her taste proved to be too mainstream and predictable. The exchanges were trite and lacked a true spark.

Mrs.Amberson was supposed to be the bright yet brittle ray of hope. She had her moments, complete with her tales about life in old time New York as a struggling actor. Her affinity for Japanese plums and herbal teas, her ability to fling money around like confetti and her rather radical and at times alarming plots and solutions make for a well-etched character. As she steers Scarlett along on a mad journey of self-discovery, I oscillated between actively loathing her and quietly willing her to save the day.

The book is nicely fleshed out. The Martin family dynamics are the author’s strongest strength. You actually understand where each sibling is coming from and the pace and character-development never jars. Another interesting side-story was the backstage chaos and excitement of putting together a bold and new production of Hamlet. The author wields a confident writing style. She manages to walk the tightrope between ending the book on a satisfactory note and yet, leaving enough loose ends to make you anticipate the sequel.

A stress-busting summer read.
Profile Image for Rachel.
518 reviews54 followers
January 11, 2021
Quick Summary: The Martin family is unusual in the sense that they live and run (sort of-they have three guests) a very historical hotel in New York. Unfortunately due to personal family problems they are incredibly poor. The hotel is like a giant game of Jenga, each piece of furniture on it's last leg. Our mainest of characters is Scarlett Martin who has just turned fifteen. Another unusual bit is that every Martin child, on their 15th birthday receives the keys to a particular room in the hotel. That room is then that childs sole responsibility. An interesting concept. Scarlett gets the Empire room, and even better an actual guest in said room for the whole summer. What starts as a dull, quiet summer at home (all her friends are traveling-they are so totally not poor), suddenly turns into anything but dull when vivacious Amy Amberston moves into the Empire room.

I can't really put my finger on how I feel about this book. I was thinking three stars, but I'm not really interested in the sequel so I'm leaning closer to 2.5 you know, if we could actually give half ratings.

Scarlett and her brother Spencer's relationship is single handedly the best part of this book. Ms. Amberson is second, but only because you literally have no idea what that woman's going to say next and I think that's the kind of interesting character we needed in this otherwise dull character line up.

I didn't feel like I connected with any of these characters. Scarlett is our most main character, it's HER story (Spencer's play) but we don't actually know anything about Scarlett. We get little backstory / character bios on all her siblings but what's really said about Scarlett? Pretty much nothing. She likes to write. She has curly hair. ...

Also the love interest, that's technically what Eric was, was pretty lackluster too. It was just boring. And you know what, I have questions. Why were none of Spencers concerns for Scarlett and Eric being together their 3 year age gap? True, that's not very big but she only just turned 15 and Eric was 18- two numbers that any other time would appear close to each other but in this particular instance feel very far apart. Also, while we're asking questions; how did Spencer get a scholarship for culinary school when it doesn't sound like any of the Martins can actually cook? Just curious.

I'm glad that in the end it looked like the hotel was going to start receiving more business. But, even the relationships between the parents and kids seemed not completely genuine. I don't know, I feel like an almost abandoned glorious hotel would be begging for attention. Begging for new feet to cross its doorways. Starving for little public attention, whether it be renting out the basement for play rehearsals or ball rooms for opening night. I mean, it all worked out- I just think perhaps we could have saved both the hotel and the play a little sooner. Maybe had a nice little epilogue about the success of the hotel now. Actually, why don't we have one of those anyway? It's because there's a sequel isn't it? Well, I'm not succumbing to that.

P.S. A lot of people are mentioning their past Maureen Johnson experiences versus this particular novel. I should tell you this was NOT my first Johnson book. But it was the first Jonson book I didn't really enjoy. (Everyone go read 13 Blue Little Envelopes )
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 60 books764 followers
October 31, 2012
Scarlett's family owns a hotel in New York City that used to be famous, but now is just run-down and going bankrupt. They have to let the cook go the morning of Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, ruining the family tradition of an amazing breakfast; her older sister Lola keeps coming to her to keep their parents from finding out she's skipping out on her job to be with her incredibly wealthy boyfriend; her older brother wants her help keeping their parents from finding out his new acting gig isn't a Broadway play; her younger sister, a cancer survivor, hates her and throws a fit everytime they have to be together. And now that Scarlett is fifteen, she has to take care of a suite in the hotel--which is now inhabited by Mrs. Amberson, an eccentric lady of uncertain age who makes weird demands on Scarlett at all hours of the day.

I just felt really, really bad for Scarlett for about three-quarters of the book. She's shy and unassertive, so everyone takes advantage of her (not in a horrible way, but still), including her family members. I think it's worse that her family doesn't realize how much pressure they're putting on her. Scarlett's interesting and nice, young but not stupid, and should stop being accommodating--which she does in the final chapters, and boy was that satisfying. (Not exactly a spoiler, but...)

Mrs. Amberson...is a weird character. I thought she was going to be some kind of wise counselor to help Scarlett become a better person, and was relieved when that wasn't the case; she's a bit selfish, mercurial, sometimes flaky, flits from cause to cause without stopping, and finally just gives up when a problem she's caused turns out to be worse than she can handle. And she actually does have the resources she claims to have, like when she sets Spencer's (Scarlett's brother) theatre troupe up with a hugely famous voice coach. Her methods made me nuts, because they were likely to get Scarlett in trouble, but her results were amazing.

My admiration for Johnson's talent at characterization continues. Scarlett seems far more like an actual teenager than the artificially clever characters you often get in YA novels. Her romance with Eric feels real because Eric is just as confused about life, and his feelings, as Scarlett is. This is not a perfect romance; it's much more satisfying. And if Johnson's characters end up in a much better place than where they started, it's not due just to Mrs. Amberson's meddling or Scarlett's sudden growth of a backbone, it's because they all turned out to be better than they thought they were.
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