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Project Sweet Life    by Brent Hartinger order for
Project Sweet Life
by Brent Hartinger
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Project Sweet Life makes an awesome summer read, especially for teens who have just started their first summer job. Brent Hartinger's tale of three ambitious slackers will have readers laughing the whole way through.

Dave and his two best friends, Victor and Curtis, are looking forward to their last free summer, enjoying the sweet life. As soon as school ends, though, their summer plans go into a tailspin as all three of their fathers (who all work together) insist that their fifteen-year-old sons get summer jobs. That night, the three meet in Curtis's bomb shelter to gripe. They end up coming up with Project Sweet Life, a plan to make what the three of them would have made working - $7000, to be exact without having to get a job.

To celebrate, they hit an estate sale where they buy a statue of Mr. Moneybags (their new mascot) and a book about their hometown, Tacoma. This gives them the idea to have a garage sale to raise the money, selling all of their possessions. With the help of Dave's uncles, they do, raising just short of their goal. But then disaster strikes when their new mascot falls on a neighbor's Ferrari, denting the hood. The boys end up $200 in the hole. Now they must come up with more creative ways to get the money. These new schemes lead to adventure, but not to $7000.

While the licks the boys get themselves in are rather unrealistic, the whole premise is one that I can see actually happening. Right from the start, the reader can see the lesson coming, but Hartinger, as always, never preaches, just lets his characters and the reader learn on their own. Also, Dave, Victor, and Curtis are a loveable trio to whom a lot of teens (both male and female) can relate. Project Sweet Life is a fun, non-taxing read, making it perfect non-required summer reading. Brent Hartinger really know how to write solid YA fiction that both speaks to, and entertains, teens.

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