Seven Deadlies by Gigi Levangie. Publisher: Blue Rider Press (October 2013). Fiction. Hardcover. 256 pages. ISBN 978-0-399-16673-0.
Seven Reasons to Read Seven Deadlies:
1. Love the cover. Prep school meets seven deadly sins. It’s sublime.
2. Dark humor. Gigi Levangie uses an elite Los Angeles prep school for the novel’s setting. Being an insider, she knows that scene. A clever, devilishly refreshing read.
From GREED— “Picture Dick Cheney as a kid, Herman Cain as a kid, Rupert Murdoch as a kid. Now combine them—and you have little Rodney Bartholomew (pronounced “BART-olomewe”). Little Rodney loved one thing: money. What did he love more than money? Quick money.”
From SLOTH— “A figure, a boy I took to be Timmy Turkle, was reclining on a sectional couch, the only one in the house, 3-D glasses glued to his head, hands attached to his video game controller. From what I could see, he appeared to be all limb and no torso, like an insect.”
3. Narrated by a savvy Latina scholarship student Perry Gonzales, a freshman at Mark Frost Academy with lofty goals. This serves as her Bennington College admissions essay. Perry handles herself extremely well. She clearly has plans and no intention to let anything derail them.
“So, I’m not one to brag, but I’m pretty much the smartest girl in my class. There are about sixty kids per class, from seventh to twelfth grade. My grades are excellent. My motivation is high. I don’t drink or do drugs or hang out with the bad kids. I’m pretty much all business. My life is not going to end here, in this part of Los Angeles, or even at Bennington.”
4. Perry runs an ingenious business: she “babysits” teenagers [a.k.a. her peers] for which she gets paid $40 an hour. Apparently other parents think Perry’s such a role model that they want Perry to spend time with their children in hope she might transform them into better students.
5. Perry’s awesome mom. Hard-working, reasonable, supportive.
“As you know, my mother, the estimable Yelena Maria Gonzales, is a registered nurse. In other words, Mama ain’t no dummy. She is the four-foot-ten distillation of the Mayan culture; her people created chocolate and the number zero—imagine a world without chocolate or zero. Let’s give the Mayans some props.”
6. Levangie can be spot-on about so many things. And provides such amusing imagery.
“The Turkles wouldn’t listen—they didn’t have time. They led “crazy-busy” lives. (I’ve learned this term from some of “my parents—what it means is, “I make myself ‘crazy’ by staying ‘busy’ with things I don’t need.”)
“I saw a boy who looked safe. He was wearing glasses, and when he opened his mouth to breathe (be still my heart!), I could see a mouth full of metal. All he needed was a squeaky voice and he would score the nerd trifecta.”
7. Sometimes Perry’s just like any other teenager.
“My mother and I were experiencing an occurrence that is rare as a red moon: We were having an argument. I wanted to spend some of the money I made babysitting and tutoring on something frivolous—so maybe, for once, I could be like all the other kids at Mark Frost Academy.”
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Blue Rider Press.