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.
-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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment!
Image via Giraffe Days