Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements

Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements by Mary Pagones

I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review. I had planned to post the review earlier, but I had to go out of town for my grandmother’s funeral, and then the rest of the week was packed.

But then I began to put it off as I have been having such a hard time reviewing this book.

But I’m actually glad I did. I don’t know if you have been following the college bribe scandal involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Hoffman-but this book is right up that alley. Crazy parents who will do practically anything to have their kids go to a “good” college. Expensive college application tutors doing all they can to get the kids placed and increase their application. If interested, go to this link. For the review-keep reading.

First let me start that I want to give props to Mary Pagones. Writing is hard…

Writing a whole book is even harder, and then putting your work out there for people to praise or pull apart-

That’s hard. So for finishing your book, Mary Pagones-

So I have been having such a hard time reviewing this book. I thought it was interesting but I’m sorry, I know that this will probably make the author angry-but I didn’t see Pride and Prejudice at all, but Emma.

What?

Yep-

Yes, I…well let’d back up. I’ll go over that later, let’s do a quick plot synopsis first:

So this is the story of Lissa- Jane Austen megafan who is getting ready to apply to college. She faces all the difficulties of branding herself, having a personal statement, using the scholarship from one school to leverage getting more money out of the other, etc. Besides that, she has her senior year with her friends, and a new boyfriend, and trying to do what she can to ace her SATs, pad her application, and hopefully-get into the school of her dreams!

So the first thing that made this book hard for me was that this concept was so foreign to me. I was shocked and confused, is this really how it is like? My experience was soooo different. I graduated in 2010 and am the first in my family to ever go to a four year university, and one immediately out of high school. I had no clue how to do anything and had knew no one to ask about it. There were no “college applications tutors”. We didn’t even have a guidance counselor-just the former principal who had retired and volunteered. I had never even heard of a college application tutor until reading this book.

Uhhhhhhh

I am biracial and the running joke in my family is that the only college fund we have is that my mom is Mexican-and I could hopefully get scholarships. I’m from a low-income area, mostly agriculture, but I did go to college prep/art school. I applied in mass (thank you fee waivers) to four UCs and four CSUs. I was lucky to get into al but one, UCLA. There were no interviews-just my resume of extracurriculars (which I had a ton of), transcripts, letters of references, and a personal statement (that I cant even remember what I wrote but I did have a teacher review it for me). I received my letters and then judged them based on the amount I received in scholarship money-I didn’t even know that you could use one’s amount as leverage as stated in this book. Basically I ended up split between two schools that were giving me the most. The school I chose, my first year was paid for, I had to take loans out the next three years, and work two jobs to put myself through school.

I had a hard time reading this book and hearing Lissa whine about being poor when she and her sister have iPhones and each have a laptop. I had a CD player because I and my family couldn’t afford anything. We had one computer growing up-that was my dad ad I only got my laptop my first year of college through my scholarship funds, and because I had a family friend who worked with Apple. Unfortunately, the one I purchased was outmoded the next year. Only by the grace of God is it still running. My first cellphone was a flip phone I got for free from the company because they were outmoding them, and it cost $40 a month, the cheapest I could get.

Lissa and her family eat all kinds of hamburger, pizza, turkey meatballs, name brand cereal, etc-and she can afford to buy lunch everyday from the cafeteria. Poor is surviving on 1/4 cup of oatmeal, hot chocolate instead of milk, and having to choose between fruit and dairy (which I did in college until I got my two jobs). She says that she is poor, but snubs her nose at a school that has maid service-if she was really poor she’d be down on that. If I didn’t have to clean my four years-woohoo. Do you know how much cleaning supplies can add up to? Luckily, today the Dollar Tree carries a lot.

As poor as these ladies

The other part I had trouble connecting to is when Lissa describes being at the college and meeting all these goth/all black wearing, alternative, pieced people-in a Jane Austen literature class. Really? In a Jane Austen class? I’m not surprised there would be some-but what about all the other people who would be in such a class.

My junior year I took an upperclass history class: The History of the Novel. Half the kids were in there for history, half were English majors. There is a picture of us and I will describe how we look. First there is Kevin: Kevin was a super outdoorsy, park ranger, hiker type guy. Hiking boots, loved the outdoors, all-american blonde football-type, in a baseball cap, tee shirt, and jeans. Then there was Thomas, noir-loving, Sundance, type guy-like Jughead Jones in TV’s Riverdale stole his look with the long hair, jacket, etc. Angelica-long curly hair/afro, always wore big rings, and smart jackets-very professional. Gwynn wore her hair long, with side bangs over one eye-dark eyeshadow and liner, jeans, and thin hoodies. Belinda was in a sorority and always had perfectly straightened hair and wore a shirt/sweater with the sorority letters on it. Kate was full athlete-always workout gear and hair in braid or ponytail. And then me-I’m wearing a little jacket my mom made, lacy “Jane Austen” inspired shirt and cowboy boots. A large variety of personalities, clothes, and interests.

Wow!

So I have to say that this book wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t connect with the characters or the plot. I guess a lot has changed in nine years. Or it might have been the area I grew up in versus where this is set.

I guess I’m too old.

So lets move on to why do I think this is Emma?

So the story is of a widowed father who loved his wife dearly, and lost her suddenly. He has two daughters which he cherishes, has a close relationship too, and worries constantly about.

Then we have the main character, Lissa. Lissa is headstrong and stubborn-but at the same time she is also a tad manipulative, thinks she knows everything, and can be harsh and judgmental. True-Elizabeth does share some of these qualities but I feel Lissa is way more Emma.  Like Emma she thinks she knows everything and in the end discovers that she was much more naive than she thought.

She can be very controlling of her friends-pushing Calvin to “officially” out himself, instead of letting him do things how he wants. She is also constantly trying to match her friend Jacqui up-first with a guy they go to school with, Noel, but when she determines that he is not worthy-tries to get her to match up with a guy Jacqui met on a school tour.

She meets a guy, Hugh Fitzgerald, and because of how he dresses basically she believes that he is perfect-not really getting to know him and enjoying his sarcastic jabs at everyone and everything…

That is until his jabs are aimed at her and she realizes that he is not that great of  person after all-very much like how Emma realizes Franck Churchill is a major jerk. Hugh is so Frank Churchill, he uses Lissa to get him through English and write a screenplay for his movie which he takes full credit for-while at the same time boinking her sister; just as Frank used Emma to deflect he was involved with Jane.

Jacqui is so a Harriet in my opinion. Jacqui is Lissa’s best friend and is kind, sweet, and completely convinced into doing whatever Lissa thinks she should do. Lissa thinks she should get closer to Noel, Jacqui does. Lissa thinks that Jacqui should go with her to the Regency Fair, even though Jacqui isn’t into it-Jacqui not only does, but has a dress made, gloves, etc. Then Lissa pushes Jacqui to another guy, and she does go after him.

Lissa hates on a classmate Charlotte so much, but I don’t see any real reason to dislike her. Charlotte is wealthy, goes on lots of trips, talks about her grades and Princeton constantly-but she cares about people and never flaunts what she has in other people’s faces. She may gossip a lot but she’s not mean about it or cruel. Lissa just hates on her because she is jealous-and all her reactions reminds me of Emma and Jane Fairfax. Jane Fairfax is Emma’s number-one hated person but there is no real reason to dislike her. Emma just does because she is jealous off all she has and her talents.

I think Calvin was supposed to be Charlotte from Pride and Prejudice, but I see a Mrs. Weston vibe. Calvin tries to help Lissa and give her some advice, but then is also easily led by Lissa.

And then there is Mr. Clarke-he is so Mr. Knightley. He tries to help Lissa, instructing her in books, schools, and life.

They even dance together and quote from Emma (although that’s not something I think Mr. Clarke should have with all the teacher/student romantic relationships that have been in the news.)

This has nothing to with Emma, but Lissa’s little sister-ouch. Lissa should have told her father that her sister makes awful decisions about boys and will be ending up pregnant or with an STD if dad doesn’t get into checking on her. But really Lissa, giving your skeezy boyfriend’s number to your young, naive, impressionable sister and setting them up to all kinds of things together alone-reminds me of my friend Shannon, who had her friend Samantha tutor her boyfriend Vincent, and next thing you know-Vin and Sam were together.

Forget you!

So I know I have been harsh, as I said I don’t think this book was for me. I will say that I really enjoyed her writing style, it was a very engrossing read.

And I LOVE how she wove points and quotes from Jane Austen throughout her work. It is littered with it, and a fangirl’s delight.

She was able to tell a story based on a Jane Austen work, but it is something that an non-Austen fan can easily follow along with.

I also think that she made some very strong points and observations of Austen and her novels in her work. You might not agree with everything, but she has sound reasoning and presents a good case and an interesting view.

Hmmm….

I liked her depictions of teenagers and how Lissa thinks she knows everything, but is not as on it as she thought she was-falling for a narcissistic pig like so many young teens and women fall victim too.

As I said it was a hard review to write. I think it is definitely worth checking out, especially in light if the recent scandal and how far parents will go to get their kids into school. I mean bribing admissions so your kids can get in? I could see Mrs. Bennet doing it.

If you do read it, comment below what you think. I’d love to hear it.

For more Emma, go to Jane Austen Chinese Zodiac

For more Emma variations, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

For more Pride and Prejudice variations, go to Why Do People Love Bridget Jones’ Diary?

For more Young Adult novels, go to Victoria and the Rogue

Are…You…Scared?: It Lives in the Woods (2017)

Are…you…scared?

So remember how I started playing that game Desire & Decorum from the app Choices?

The one that is similar to the game design in the film Big? A computer game/book that you read but get to make choices as to what will happen next?

Wow!

I know this isn’t a “movie”-its a game-but it’s like a combo of the two. You have a mix of film and book storytelling in combo of a video game.

This one is sort of like It by Stephen King. A group of kids meet a mysterious powerful creature called Mr. Redfield. After a tragic accident they never returned to the woods. The group split up and went their separate ways.

There is Stacey who became cheerleading captain and is being blackmailed by fellow cheerleader Brittany, into doing her bidding. Lucas is the class president and every moment of his time is chock full of extracurriculars, schoolwork, and etc.-where does he find the time? Andy-a transexual basketball player who faces prejudice because of his sexual orientation and race. Ava, full goth/witch who does whatever she wants and seeks powers. Lily, a lesbian in love with popular Brittany and the school nerd. Dan, football player but has been pulling away from everyone lately. Noah, who has been damaged by the incident that took his sister Jane and caused his family to fall apart. And there’s you.

Everything changes on the night before senior year when you and your friends receive strange texts from Dan. Then a mud monster in Dan’s form attacks you!

Dan has gone missing-bad things happen that “help you”, and it’s up to you what happens next as you fight mud monsters, massive spiders, bone and vine creatures, and have to figure out how to stop Mr. Red from hurting you all. What will you choose and will you make the right decision? Can you defeat Mr. Red?

I thought it was amazing. I couldn’t stop playing it, I just had to know what happened next.

The music is great as well and all together an amazing experience. I definitely suggest trying this game out.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

For more on Choices, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 1, The Journey Ahead

I Want to Be Your Ideal Man: Grease (1978)

Most Romantic Moment #4

grease

I Love this musical. My best friend Carson and I were obsessed with it when we were eight years old. We used to watch it over and over, knew every song by heart, and could do the hand jive in our sleep. Grease was definitely the word.

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So the movie is set in the 1950s, you know one of my favorite decades.

dating1950

Sandy is from Australia and visiting the American beach for summer vacation (winter in Australia). She meets Danny is also away at the beach and the two meet and fall head over heels for each other. But Sandy has to back home, with both thinking they would never see each other again.

ActionItemLOVE

School’s back in session, and we see Danny is the hottest and coolest guy in school.

hot pretty sexy

He and his gang are ready to finish their senior year when he gets the biggest surprise of his life, Sandy is in school. Can this designated bad boy and good girl make a relationship work?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

Throw in a car racing challenge, dance contest, Frankie Avalon, and amazing songs.

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Most Romantic Moment: I Will Do What I Can to Get You Back

So throughout the whole film we see that Danny is all about “his reputation”.

im-importantbigdeal

Sleeping around with girls, not caring about what happens to them but just using and losing…

See ya!

See ya!

However when he meets Sandy that changes. At first he tries to keep to his “tomcattin” ways, but realizes that’s not what he wants; he wants Sandy. But how to win her back?

Hmm...

Hmm…

As Sandy is a cheerleader, he decides to go out for a team sport going from greaser to jock. (Which was a big deal then. Remember Daryl in The Outsiders and how he was able to cross over into Soc territory if he wanted to because of football? Ponyboy too was offered that as well but he wouldn’t give up his cigarettes for track). But Danny doesn’t really mean it, he’s just doing it to try and win Sandy back at this moment. But because he doesn’t put his whole heart into it, he messes up again and again; ditching her for another girl to win the dance contest and giving her his “ring of commitment” in order to make out.

Men

Men

But none of these work, Sandy is a high quality girl and she won’t have some pretender, she needs something real.

settle

So Danny realizes that if he loves her, he needs to stop the pretending and kidding around. He is going to have to do something really drastic to show Sandy he truly cares about her.

So he decides to quit the T-Birds

OMG gasp

Now contrary to what some bloggers say, he is not just putting a “cardigan on”. The sweater is a symbol that he is completely changing his life. By changing the T-Bird leather jacket to the cardigan with his “letter for track” on it, he’s not only saying that he is giving up the “fast” lifestyle, the parting with all these other women, the reputation of never settling down; but that he is going to be something more stable and trustworthy. Something that she can rely on and that will be there for her.

Grease

As he tells the other boys, he grown out of that, and is instead looking forward to a future with Sandy, not just a “playdate”.

Danny Zuko: Oh c’mon you guys…You know you mean a lot to me…it’s just that Sandy does too. And I’m going to do anything I can to get her 

After all, what’s comfortable, can be worn anywhere, and something that makes you feel relaxed, supported, and warm…a leather jacket or a cardigan?

hey-girl-feel-my-sweater-know-what-its-made-of-boyfriend-material-quote-1

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To start Romance is in the Air:Part IV from the beginning, go to I Can’t Pretend, I Have to Be: Casual Sex? (1988)

For the previous post, go to Business is Business, But Your Happiness is More Important: Borrowed Hearts (1997)

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For more on Grease, go to Why Were You Driven Away?

For more musicals, go to Marry Me: Gigi (1958)

For more period films, go to I Choose You: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day