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Review of "Princess in the Spotlight"

By Meg Cabot
Harpercollins Juvenile, 2001
Review by Su Terry on Oct 12th 2001
Princess in the Spotlight

"Just when Mia thought she had the whole Princess thing under control&things get out of hand fast!" This is how Meg Cabot's second volume, Princess Diaries II: Princess in the Spotlight is described on the flyleaf of the book. Like the first volume, it is written in the format of a teenage girl's diary, and charts Mia's further adventures as a princess-in-training.

To recap volume I, Mia Thermopolis is an average ninth grader growing up in Greenwich Village until she discovers that her father is the royal prince of Genovia and due to cancer treatments has been left sterile. Mia is his only child and as such she is now the next in line to rule Genovia. This came as a complete shock to Mia who knew her father was an important foreign diplomat, but not that he was THAT important! In volume I, Mia begins her princess-in-training lessons with her Grandmere, learns to cope with her ever-present bodyguard, Lars, and discovers the difference between real and false friendship, and that image is not always the best indicator of character.

In volume II, Mia continues to deal with her unique family situation and takes on the media. Grandmere is up to her old tricks and schedules Mia for an interview on a major television talk show. Mia is shaking in her army boots, not so much because she is nervous, which she is, but due to the flu. A dose of cough syrup before the interview leaves Mia woozy and Genovia in a state of national chaos. At home, life is no less chaotic. Mia's mother is pregnant and Mr.Gianini, her Algebra teacher, is the father! While the parents-to-be plan a quiet Halloween wedding at Town Hall, Grandmere has other ideas for the mother of the future ruler of Genovia. She has invited a select group of 300+ guests and dignitaries for a gala wedding at the Plaza. Meanwhile, her mother's "countrified" parents and Mia's "knock dead gorgeous" cousin have descended upon the household. Complicating matters further, Mia has started to receive mysterious email from a secret admirer who wants to meet her for the Halloween showing of Rocky Horror. Poor little Princess, what will she do?

Mia continues to mature as she faces more of the issues facing young people today. She comes to terms with her ambivalence about her mother's impending marriage, her new stepfather, and soon to be new sibling. She confronts the issue of deciding between family commitments and personal interest. She also negotiates the realm of secret email flirtation. (This latter issue should have at least alluded to some of the risks in flirting with and meeting strangers met online, but did not.)

Mia's second Princess Diary is as delightful as the first! It heavily relies on information and relationships established in volume I. This novel should be read only after having read volume I. (I personally wonder if the two volumes were originally intended to be one volume, but that they were at some later point divided.) All this having been said, I recommend the Princess Diaries set. It is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

© 2001 Suzanne Garrison-Terry

    Suzanne Garrison-Terry
    Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, and a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She is currently completing a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University (July 2001). She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY.

    Interests in Mental Health: I am interested in the interplay between psychology and spirituality. My current research focuses on the role of hormonal fluctuation during puberty, pregnancy, and peri-menopause as a stimuli for mystical experiences. Through the study of autobiographical accounts of the mystical experiences of "historically accepted" female Christian mystics and additional biographical information, I am analyzing the connection between the onset of mystical experiences and biological data/symptomology for the potential existence of hormonal fluctuation or irregularity. If this sounds like an unusual topic, nota bene how many medieval female mystics began having "vision" on or about the age of 40!

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