This is the trade paperback edition with the ISBN 0-316-73474-8.
Date read: Summer of 2011, two days before the official start of the 11th grade.
Anna Percy and Ben Birnbaum are happily reunited, but Anna watches with alarm at Ben’s growing tendency to be a tad possessive. She is also still interning for Apex – but under Clark Sheppard this time.
Cammie is not having a good time. First Anna wedges her way through Cammie’s life by taking away her father’s attention (however small), getting chummy with Sam and Dee and snatching Ben right out of her path. Then Cammie’s step-sister turns up, an ungrateful brat of fourteen who snags their father’s attention. Then she finds herself falling for a guy who’s still pining over a lost girl. Could Cammie’s life actually get worse?
I remember hating the book when I first read it. It was on a Saturday, two days before I started my 11th grade and I had fever and was feeling poor. I thought, hey, Blonde Ambition is an easy, light-hearted book. Surely I can enjoy it even in my feverish state.
It turned out I was wrong. I had no patience with Cammie’s snobbishness and all the fashion talk. I hated the book precisely because it was not a complicated book.
After that, I did not dare read Blonde Ambition again, even though I did buy Some Like It Hot and American Beauty last year. So I went into this re-read preparing for the worst. And was pleasantly surprised.
Everything I loved from the first two A-List books (The A-List and Girls on Film) was there, plus more thorough and in-depth characterization. Don’t get me wrong and expect a Dessen from these novels, they are in fact a slash between Private and Clique.
The A-List books read more like a TV series: Who has broken up with whom, who has a new hook-up, what other scandalous things are going on in whose life, etc.
One of my favorite characters, Anna Percy, is still sophiscated and level-headed, but also more daring and, like, YOLO. (Of course, the book was written in 2004 and there was no YOLO or a Smartphone – it feels so weird.)
In The A-List I thought Anna and Ben were going to be a couple that will weather the storm and face hardships – drift apart by misunderstanding, then reunite, etc. But actually it is more like “Yes, I like you a lot but I don’t know what I want from my life” kind. Anna is starting to take her resolution she made when she moved from New York to LA seriously. And you know what? I still like her. And I understand *SPOILER* why she and Ben ended things. “What had happened to the self-confident boy to whom she had given her heart? Where was his center? Who was he? Clearly he didn’t know. And it was easier to hang his life on her than to face his own self-doubts and insecurities.” (Blonde Ambition, p. 153) *END OF SPOILER*
Sam Sharpe is my other favorite character, even with all her insecurities and “emotional baggage” as Adam calls it. I do love seeing her friendship with Anna blossom. Sam did not have a central role this time, but she did get to “narrate” (the book is written in third-person POV) a few chapters.
And, scarily enough, I am beginning to understand Cammie Sheppard. Yes, she can be a condescending b**** and a lousy friend but her childhood trauma about her mother’s sudden death and her absent-minded father made her look for attention in “a lot of really stupid, fucked-up ways.” (p. 192) And she tried to save Mia, her step-sister, from making the same mistake, although she is the opposite of grateful.
I don’t approve of her methods but Cammie’s actually quite insecure, and her insecurities get to me, I guess.