Young Adult Education Marry Me, Michael Moscovitz: ‘The Princess Diaries' by Meg Cabot Kerry Winfrey

Other people’s journals are the most fascinating things ever…in theory, anyway. Unless you’re a talented writer, like Joyce Carol Oates or Sylvia Plath, chances are your journals are pretty boring. At least, mine definitely are (although, if you’re in the market for some adolescent complaints about boys interspersed with Dashboard Confessional lyrics, I can direct you to the box of high school journals in my closet). Luckily for us, fictional journals tend to be much funnier and more interesting (also, less Dashboard). I think journal entries are the best format for a young adult novel because you ride shotgun with the narrator, getting an up-close-and-personal view of her voice and sense of humor. I’ve written about a journal from the 1200s already, but today let’s focus on something a little more recent: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

The entire Princess Diaries series is golden, but the first book is especially great. Diary-writer Mia Thermopolis is just trying to get through her freshman year. She’s tall, awkward, terrible at math, unpopular, vegetarian and in love with the school’s coolest guy, Josh Richter. But since he barely even knows who she is, Mia spends most of her time hanging out with her friend Lilly, working on Lilly’s public access TV show, Lilly Tells it Like it Is. Everything’s going along as usual until Mia finds out that her dad isn’t just a politician in the far-away country of Genovia; he’s actually a prince. This means that Mia is no longer just Mia; now she’s Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo. Suddenly she’s taking princess lessons from her sassy/scary grandmother, going everywhere with a bodyguard and trying to evade the paparazzi.

The Princess Diaries is, to be honest, one of my favorite books/book series ever. Even though I’ve never been into princess culture, I understand why it’s so interesting that Mia suddenly finds herself whisked into a lifestyle of fame and glamour. I mean, what girl in high school didn’t spend a few boring study halls idly daydreaming about being taken away from the humdrum indignities of high school life? Also, The Princess Diaries is funny. Although I love a lot of YA books (duh), rarely have I come across one that makes me laugh as much.

Finding out you’re actually a princess would be kind of awesome, but the awesomest (it’s a word now) thing about this book by far is Lilly’s brother, Michael Moscovitz. Michael might be my Top YA Love Interest of All Time (other contenders: Marcus Flutie, Cricket Bell, Etienne St. Clair, Conrad Fisher, Wes from The Truth About Forever, Augustus Waters, and oh God that is a weirdly long list of fictional teenage boys). He’s smart, nice and a musician. What’s not to like? The best book in the series, in my opinion, is Princess in Love, because that’s the book where Mia and Michael finally get together (not really a spoiler because duh, it’s in the title) and make out at the Non-Denominational Winter Dance.

Some Highlights:

-The film version, starring Anne Hathaway, is actually kind of great (we won’t speak of the sequel, although PD2 does feature my spirit animal/favorite human being, Raven Symone). Also, I originally thought Stanley Tucci was in this film, but it turns out I just think every balding man is Stanley Tucci. Sorry, Hector Elizondo.

-Meg Cabot is the best at creating weird, funny side characters, like Boris Pelkowski, the new Russian kid who everyone locks in the supply closet because he’s always playing his violin, or Tina Hakim Baba, who’s obsessed with romance novels.

-The book includes an essay Mia writes for her grandmother called “The Ten Women I Admire Most in the Whole World.” It includes Hillary Rodham Clinton, Princess Diana, Madonna and “A Lady Cop I Once Saw” who gave a truck driver a ticket because he honked at a woman wearing a short skirt.

-In a lot of ways, this book was kind of a blast from the past (not the movie starring Brendan Fraser). Sometimes, when Mia tries to call Lilly she can’t get through because Michael is online. Dial-up connections, you guys! Also, most people in the book don’t have cell phones. Oh, 2001. You were a strange time.

Are you a Princess Diaries fan? Do you have a crush on Michael Moscovitz? What were your high school journals like? Let me know in the comments! And as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books you’d like to see in Young Adult Education. Find me on Twitter @KerryAnn, send me an email at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or leave a comment!

Image via Giraffe Days

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  1. Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors!!

  2. Best Disney prince (Let’s not get too technical here.) alert! I adore adore adore him. :D

  3. Ever since I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, Dash has been my #1 fictional love. I can’t even really explain why. I’m just in love with him. Deeply in love.

  4. I am sooo happy someone agrees with me. :) I have been in love with Michael forever and I think he is the reason why I have such high standards for guys… Oh, I love the Princess Diaries series. :)

  5. Michael Moscovitz was definitely my first fictional-character-crush. I stopped reading the books after a while, but when last book came out, I bought the three books I had missed. The ending of the series was completely PERFECT, and I felt like I had never been away.

  6. I swear Michael Moscovitz ruined teenage boys for me, I wanted someone who would come visit me in the middle of algebra class, who would invent a robotic arm to impress my father, who would prefer me to a girl who could clone fruit flies. I’m 23 and still reread the Princess Diaries series because Michael is so awesome. J.P. who?

  7. My obsession of The Princess Diaries was only rivaled by my Sloppy Firsts obsession (confession: i at 26, i still read them) and Georgia Nicholson was a close third (Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging….just don’t go back and read those, they’re not nearly as funny when you’re an adult..)
    Michael Moscovitz is a serious teenage crush. I once had a dream about him and Marcus Flutie fighting over me..Meg Cabot is such an awesome writer.

    • Ha! That dream is amazing. I LOVE Sloppy Firsts, too!

      Kerry Winfrey | 7/29/2012 04:07 pm
  8. Michael was such a heartthrob. I’m such a big fan of this series, as well as basically everything Meg Cabot has written, so I love that you’ve done a spot for this!

  9. I AM MIA THERMOPOLIS. My girlfriends from high school said so and I started reading the books just to find arguments to prove them wrong. Well, I couldn’t. They were right!) And yes, I had a loooong crush on my best friend’s big brother… I don’t any more, but I still continue to write my princess diaries! :)

  10. The Princess Diaries was my companion in the torments and triumphs of puberty. Probably because Mia and I share the habit of filling the pages of our journal with our insecurities, observations and feelings and most importantly, our decisions to go on in spite of them. I even wrote about my love for the Princess Diaries and had it published in our national paper, I hope you don’t mind me posting the link (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=650459). As for the Michael Moscovitz, hhnngg. My favorite part would have to be The Princess Diaries: Princess In Love, where he finally expresses his feelings for Mia in the most unconventional yet genuine way. Sigh. I think I’m going to be single forever if I wait for a LIVING guy like MM.

  11. Michael Moscovitz is the best! I love these books (and the movies)…the first one is definitely the best!

  12. Michael Moscovitz is definitely near the top of my list of fictional characters I’m in love with. He’s so patient even when Mia is completely neurotic, and puts up with Lilly. I re-read Princess in Love whenever I need a pick-me-up, so great! He’s definitely in close contention with Wes (sa-woon) and Todd Spencer.

  13. I love The Princess Diaries (and anything Meg Cabot writes)! The characters are superb, hilarious, and real. I’ve always been able to identify with the characters Meg writes because they are so down-to-earth and normal while dealing with crazy circumstances (i.e. finding out you’re a Princess, being struck by lightning and gaining a superpower, saving the President’s life and becoming a celebrity, being able to talk to ghosts, having a tv fall on you and then being switched into a model’s body – you know, the usual). Oh, and the Princess Diaries movie is AMAZING. It’s one of my favorites. I quote it all the time. favorites. And let’s also not forget that the second movie featured Chris Pine! “I just like to look at him.”

  14. I’ve never read them but I’m definitely going to read them now! Have you ever read Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning? It’s a trilogy and very relatable. I found myself in love with the main guy, Dylan. They’re very well written, funny and witty!

    • I haven’t read Diary of a Crush, but I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks for the rec, Karina!

      Kerry Winfrey | 7/29/2012 05:07 am
  15. I was obsessed with The Princess Diaries which led me to a short lived obsession with Robert Schwartzman aka Michael Moscovitz. However, that obsession led me to finding out about his band, Rooney, and I saw them in concert twice. In short, The Princess Diaries led to good things all around.

    • I’ve seen Rooney in concert, too! They’re pretty adorable.

      Kerry Winfrey | 7/29/2012 05:07 am
  16. I never read the Princess Diaries books but this article might swing it for me (ten years too late… maybe I can call it period literature?). Did you ever read the ‘Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging’ series by Louise Rennison? It’s British and I have no idea if it ever got printed in the US. There was a really terrible film version of the first book. Dear Lord don’t watch it. The books are the funniest I’ve ever read. Like, laugh out loud on the bus funny. In fact, one time they were ‘laugh out loud reading late at night and wake your parents up’ funny.

    Anyway, I guess these books were my equivalent of the Princess Diaries. And they are awesome.

    • The Princess Diaries and Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging are two book series that I literally can’t read in public because I start laughing like a crazy person. I was around middle-school age when I started them both, and I’m 20 years old now and still love them.

    • And the movie is bad…I second that you shouldn’t watch it.

    • They were definitely printed in the US…I was a huge fan of those books, and I still am, in fact! I started reading the first book in the series around the same time as the Princess Diaries…I think they came out in the same year. Georgia Nicolson is a hilarious and very relatable character.

    • For some reason, I haven’t read “Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging,” but I will definitely have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation, Jade! xo

      Kerry Winfrey | 7/28/2012 06:07 am
  17. I loved the Princess Diaries series. My friends and I somehow ended up buying the entire series between three of us so it was fun passing the books around; added to the journal aspect with a feeling like note passing. Thanks for the reminder of that fun time.