Author: Alison Cherry
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Acquired Via: NetGalley
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.
Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:
I know your secret.
Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.
Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?
Imagine a town dedicated as a sanctuary for redheads, where 75% of the population has some level of red hair, from strawberry blonde to dark auburn. Other hair colors are discriminated against, with even the strawberry blondes - "strawbies" - being treated disdainfully. Such a place is the setting of Alison Cherry's debut novel.
While there is likely no such place (if there was, I'd retire there a happy ginger), the redheads could just as easily be replaced with football fanatics and the top players treated like royalty instead of those with the reddest locks. Oh, Red is clever in its satire, but that is just the backdrop for Felicity St. John's fantastic journey coming to terms with her blackmailer, her mother, her town, and most of all - herself. She is a popular, beautiful high school student who has everything - a football player boyfriend, two fun and caring best friends, and is a strong contender for the Miss Scarlet pageant and homecoming queen. However, she has two secrets - she's an "Artie" (artificial redhead) who is naturally strawberry blonde, and she would rather go to art school than Scarletville's community college. When the first secret becomes the fodder for her blackmailer, what she thought was her perfect life starts to crumble around her.
While Felicity is the perfect, popular girl, she's not a mean one. She doesn't participate in the mistreatment of non-redheads or strawbies. However, it's easy to see that her life isn't the one she truly yearns for, but what she's pushed into by her mother. (I could say a lot of ugly things about a woman who puts chemicals on the head of her toddler for cosmetic purposes.) It was a little heartbreaking how far Felicity would go to protect her lie-based life because she thinks all of her hopes and dreams - as well as those of her mother - will be crushed to tiny bits if anyone finds out that she really *gasp* dyes her hair. (As for her mother, I referred to her in my mind throughout the book as "Mommie Dearest".) I yearned for her to stand up for herself and tell her blackmailer and mother to go somewhere mythical where it's hot year-round, but that was definitely not something that she was able to do at the beginning of the novel. Thankfully, there's a cute boy who comes along that shows her that the world is a lot bigger than Scarletsville. (No, there's not any instalove, and he doesn't become the center of her universe.)
Red was a really fun and quick read that I think captured the feeling of how heavy other people's expectations are on us as teenagers. I laughed out loud at several parts, and I did get a little emotional at other points. I really enjoyed watching Felicity become more than her dyed red hair and try to figure out who SHE wanted to be. I think young people and adults alike will enjoy reading Red, and it's not to be missed if you're a redhead.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.
This book counts toward my completion of the Debut Author Challenge.