One of my all time favorite stories is Cyrano de Bergerac. So, when I found out that this story is a modern day retelling of that classic tale, I jumped for joy. I enjoyed this version immensely.Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny--alright, enormous-- flaw. Her nose. But even comparisons to a beak don't bother her much. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame. But on the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend Kristen falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do. She agrees.
In Lara Chapman's Flawless, a young teenage girl has the misfortune of being born with an enormously large honker. But don't feel bad for Sarah; she is a strong and determined girl. With the help of her best friend Kristen--aka Barbie-- they put the taunters in their place and manage to implement an inpenetrable aura of self-confidence. But that's only on the outside. Inwardly, both Sarah and Kristen have major insecurities.
Like the classic version, Sarah has a way with words. A gift, actually. She can spin out prose that would make both Cyrano and Shakespeare turn green with envy. Kristen, however, is a bumbling (albeit extremely sexy) idiot. At least in the area of the fine arts. When Rock enters their world, it becomes very clear that this walking Adonis has a functioning brain. Kristen instantly snags Rock with her flirty ways, but it seems like Rock is interested in Sarah's intellect. That's a major problem for Kristen. She needs Sarah's brain to impress Rock. (I mean, Kristen offered to arrange a meeting with his favorite poet-- Walt Whitman! Hysterical.)
Sarah, being the great best friend that she is, allows herself to be roped in to one of the most insane schemes of all time. She becomes Kristen's voice (via e-mail and Facebook), and Rock's muse. You can imagine the misadventures that ensue from this horrible decision. Classic stuff. It kind of reminded me of Steve Martin's movie Roxeanne. Through all of this, however, there is a lessoned to be learned, and Sarah learns it the hard way. Just like my buddy Will says, "To thine own self be true."
If you're familiar with the original story, this one is pretty easy to predict. It really is a retelling. One thing that I do love about this story, however, is the incorporation of Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter. How powerful. In case you're wondering, Sarah and Rock have the same literature class together. They have to disect quotes from The Scarlett Letter and apply it to real life. Chapman picked wonderful quotes to illustrate the conflicting nature of her characters. It also helped that the literature class's annual theme was "love."
I couldn't decide if I wanted to give the story 3 or 4 starts. I love Cyrano so much that it's hard to compare a contemporary version to such a piece of perfect literary fiction. But on its own, Flawless, was a good story. The plot was consistent, the characters believable, and the overall story was true to Cyrano. There was even a little lesson about loyalty (to yourself and others) in there. So, I ended up marking it as both 3 and 4 (which I guess is really 3.5). Make of it what you will.
Oh, and if you haven't seen the movie Roxeanne or read Cyrano de Bergerac, you really need to get with the program. You might enjoy this book even more if you had something to compare it to. It is a retelling, afterall.