On the morning of the tenth of June, Scarlett Martin woke up to the sound of loud impromptu rap penetrating her thin bedroom wall from the direction of the bathroom next door.
"Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small Art Deco hotel in the heart of New York City. When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet and world traveler. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery and romantic missteps. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off." There's also the fact that the Martins are nearly broke and have had to let go of their major selling point - their chef.
I have to say that I enjoyed 13 Little Blue Envelopes more than Suite Scarlett, but it was still a good, humorous book, with a lot of the randomness that characterizes most of Maureen Johnson's work (and personality). I guess my main problem with it was that towards the beginning there was just too much going on: Scarlett's bratty younger sister, the family's financial problems, her brother's problems, the letting go of the chef, and the new guest. Also, the fact that the chef was let go was unrealistic; she was the main attraction of the hotel, and then they "let her go"? I also didn't find the romance as interesting. Overall, Suite Scarlett wasn't as compelling, unique, or funny. Still, I liked the plot setup and the setting of the novel. The characters felt a bit flat, but I really liked Spencer, Scarlett's brother. The relationship between them was convincing, although the plot was absolutely absurd.
Suite Scarlett just didn't resonate with me, I guess. It all felt kind of forced. The book was still somewhat entertaining, but I did consider putting it down several times. I ended up finishing it, mostly because I wanted to find out what was going on with the mysterious Mrs. Amberson. She does help the Martins a lot, but I still distrusted her immensely, and I didn't like how she treated Scarlett.
Even if I didn't like the main character of 13 Little Blue Envelopes all that much, the book was still hilarious and quirky and romantic. I liked Scarlett a lot; but I just didn't find the book that funny. One of the only remotely funny scenes was the fake audition, and even that wasn't very good. There were some good elements, but nothing was convincing, and I have to say, that Suite Scarlett was just weak in terms of its writing and humor. It was trying to be funny, but it didn't succeed. And yet something kept me reading, something more than wanting to find out about Mrs. Amberson. I'm not sure what that was. Perhaps it's just the fact that the book was written by Maureen Johnson, and I wanted to finish it.
The writing wasn't particularly good either, and as I said, the hilarious ridiculousness that characterizes Johnson's other work that I've read wasn't present enough. The plot idea itself was interesting, but it was never really followed through. I did like the romance eventually though; still, Scarlett is fifteen. A bit young, you might say.
Overall, I found Suite Scarlett sadly wanting as a novel even though I kept reading; I would recommend 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Maureen Johnson's story in Let it Snow much more than this one; they're both funny, romantic, and sweet.