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Gossip Girl    by Cecily von Ziegesar order for
Gossip Girl
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Reading Gossip Girl, I felt like a voyeur into the lives of sons and daughters of the rich and famous, lost in A Midsummer Night's Dream of musical partners and misunderstandings. It's tons of fun, especially the alternation of events with Gossip Girl's chatroom take on them ... leading to the question of who really is Gossip Girl? She flits around events like a Scarlet Pimpernel but it's not obvious which of the characters she plays. While the author drops tantalizing hints she keeps the secret.

It all starts early in a (private) school year, when the young men and women who live the 'luxe life' in New York's Upper East Side learn that Serena van der Woodsen has been kicked out of boarding school and will be back at Spenford with them. Her oldest friend Blair Waldorf is not thrilled. Blair's social status has improved in her friend's absence and she's jealous of her boyfriend Nate's feelings for Serena. She's also confused by her parents' divorce and her ambivalence about sleeping with Nate, and doesn't want to return to 'playing the smaller, fatter, mousier, less witty best friend of the blond NaNber girl, Serena van der Woodsen.'

Serena, on the other hand, expects everything to be the same and is hurt by Blair's attitude and her isolation at school. The author shows the vulnerabilities common to the age group, despite a permissive lifestyle including sex, drugs and alcohol. Blair regularly regurgitates her food in the nearest washroom, and can't decide if she's ready for Nate or not, and he is 'actually pretty weak.' As the tale evolves, gossip about Serena escalates so that she is eventually accused by loser Chuck of having STDs and a baby, being a drug dealer and 'a member of some cult that killed chickens.' To which the supercool Serena replies 'Wow, I've been busy'.

Whether you are (or were) one of the in-group at school like Blair and her cohorts, or an outsider like Dan or Jenny, there are young people to whom you can relate in this story, which is one of maturing feelings and shifting relationships. It's light, frothy and fun. If you enjoy gossip, dive into Gossip Girl, but don't believe everything you read!

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