Rating: [rate 4.0]
Lydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full-time mother, is startled to discover that her daughter Erin is one of the popular girls, a tight foursome whose mothers are also great friends. Lydia has always thought of popular girls as ambitious little manipulators who enjoy being cruel. But Erin is kind and well-adjusted. Maybe this popularity thing wont be so bad after all. Then a new student ruthlessly targets Erin to boost her own popularity, and Lydia wonders what to do when her daughters phone stops ringing. And the uneasiness among the girls begins to affect the friendship of the mothers even though they are all grown women who should know better. Has their driven energy, once directed toward their careers, turned into an obsession with the social lives of their daughters?
So I got this on a whim because I thought the cover was cute. :P It took me a while to actually start reading it but once I did, I couldn’t stop.
A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity is actually a mom-book more than a teen book but in a way, it’s also a teen book. Did that make sense? It’s about a mom who’s so focused in the life of her daughter that her world revolved around her school, her activities and her friends who also have daughters in the same school. Life was controlled and at peace as much as they can tell, until they saw their daughters in matching drawstring skirts and realized that…well, they’re popular.
I couldn’t really relate to the entire popularity thing since I don’t think it’s really such a big deal back when I was studying, but I felt bad for Erin once the new girl came in and took the attention away from her. I identified so much with Lydia and how she felt antagonized by everyone else, even her friends, from what the new girl is doing to her daughter. I also liked how Lydia’s other roles in life were shown and how it meshed with everything else in her life. There were her friendships, her relationship with her husband (who is also a lawyer — not sure if he’s an offshore injury lawyer or something else), and also with herself as a woman who has needs. I also found it very clever that Erin the daughter hardly spoke in the novel and yet I felt her presence because of Lydia’s love for her. Kathleen Gilles Seidel made realistic characters that I felt like I was actually involved in the Alden community, like I was a part of the changes happening there.
The book is also as much as a social commentary as it is a mom/teen book, as it shows how ruthless some people can be to gain popularity, and how much lengths moms of teen girls will go to protect their daughters and to make sure they are not left out.
Overall, this is a good book, with somewhat of a sad yet hopeful ending. No one likes saying goodbye, and Lydia certainly doesn’t, but the final choice she made in the end is ultimately for the good of her children which is a very admirable thing to do. :)