Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Spark for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: December 6th, 2016
Synopsis: If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.
When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.
As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all…even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently he keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved ” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and a choice she never dreamed she’d have to make.
I knew as soon as I heard about Alterations that I just had to get my hands on it. You see, it’s a YA retelling of Sabrina, which is one of my FAVORITE movies of all time ( the Audrey Hepburn version of course)! The problem is when you’re creating a new adaption of a beloved classic, whether it’s a book or film, people are either going to love it or hate it. I’m happy to say that in this case I absolutely loved it and Stephanie Scott has my deep and everlasting admiration for the courage to take this on. First let me address the elephant in the room. Yes the love triangle (shudder) between Amelia, Ethan, and Liam is a big part of the story, yet it never takes over. 16-year-old Amelia has built Ethan up into godlike status. This is done in a very believable and relatable way. I think even adults reading this will probably think back upon a teen crush, that now with the wisdom of age, we want to smack ourselves in the head over. Amelia is shy and extremely insecure about herself, but she is also laser-focused on her dream of becoming a fashion designer, and her passion for this leaps off the pages. There are plenty of pop-culture references, especially to Instagram, Pinterest, and the tv show Project Runway and its host Tim Gunn, who Amelia idolizes. Even with her ambitions though, Amelia still initially panics at leaving her Miami home when she’s given a scholarship to attend the one-month-long New York Fashion Institute. But, with the gentle prodding of her mom and Abuelita, off she goes, where she not only winds up gaining new found confidence, but also meets girls who understand her passion for fashion. Thankfully there are no mean girls here, just like-minded ones with who Amelia forms strong friendships with. This brings me to the only small criticism I have with the story. Amelia tells a small lie regarding her relationship with Ethan, and as is quite often the case, this small lie snowballs until it comes close to derailing her new friendships. To be honest, while I understood the falsehood in question, I think for a while it took over too much of the story and that it wasn’t necessary. But honestly, this is my one and only complaint and it certainly wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book. Similar to Sabrina returning to her father completely changed, Amelia returns to her mom and Abuelita, more sophisticated and with a newfound confidence in herself. She also starts to realize that maybe Ethan isn’t the right one for her, and instead sees that she and Liam actually have much more in common. Alas, the course of true love does not run smoothly for Amelia and Liam, and there are plenty of miscommunications and comedy of errors, they must get through before attaining their happy ending. Alterations is both a plot and character-driven story. As well-developed as the main characters are, they wouldn’t be nearly as appealing if it weren’t for the diverse cast of secondary characters. Friendship is a huge theme in this book, and all of Amelia’s “crew” bring something into her life. This is also all about diversity as the story is set primarily in Miami, and Stephanie Scott really brings this vibrant city to life. While Amelia and her mother and Abuelita are Latina, it’s never made clear where their family origins are, but they’re such a wonderful and loving family unit, it doesn’t really matter. Ethan and Liam despite being twins, are complete opposites of one another. Ethan is a likable extrovert, but also is a bit shallow. Liam is brilliant, yet awkward in his own skin and ironically it’s Amelia who coaxes him from his shell. The romance between them is so sweet that I wanted to reach in and hug them at the end. After reading Alterations I have to say it’s going on my short list of favorite 2016 reads and I can definitely see it being adapted to film. I think teen girls will love this as well as adults who love Sabrina. I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Scott comes up with next!