The Exile of Gigi Lane (by Adrienne Maria Vrettos)

13 01 2012

Gigi Lane is the original Mean IT Girl. She’s a ‘Hottie Hopeful’: hoping to become the girl everyone loves to hate at high school, the person everyone will remember, just because they are popular and because they have what they have (everything) and are what they are (beautiful, popular, smart, connected). Even higher up the social ladder than the cheerleaders are the Hotties from the Hot Spot at Swan’s Lake Country Day High School: the most popular, the most revered, the most connected girls of the school. One Head Hottie, with 2 lesser Minions, with a Hottie Handbook, an elusive Den of Secrecy and a fully connected Network going all the way up to the Ivy League, companies all over the country, hospital administrations, publishing companies etc. etc. Nobody really knows how far their reach is… Gigi Lane has been predestined to be the Head Hottie at Swan’s Lake since forever, so she behaves according to her status (or so she thinks): ambitious, patronizing, arrogant,  except one day she goes one step too far and is exposed as an out-and-out meanie … not really what a Hottie should be, as it turns out. So her downfall begins: first shipped off to Alaska of all places, then shunned by all the cliques at her high school. Through it all and because she sees what it takes to be in a certain clique, Gigi herself – though still very much a ‘Hottie’ – starts to change for the better.

If all of this sounds too Disney Channel, don’t despair, because even though this story might also be perfect for a typical high school movie, there’s also a healthy dose of sarcasm involved, especially when Gigi describes the different cliques at her school (herd mentality all the way to the Cursed Unaffiliated) , or when she describes how she rushes them (basically ‘applying’ to get in). When even the Cursed Unaffiliated don’t want to have her, the story even gets a bitter twist, and you can see that social criticism was definitely on Vrettos’ mind when she wrote The Exile of Gigi Lane. It’s this twist of self-mockery and sarcasm that raises this book above the run-of-the-mill mean girl book. The various – and sometimes very implausible – twists and turns in the book, the exaggerated descriptions, the satire…all this make that you have to take The Exile of Gigi Lane with more than a pinch of salt. It may not be as memorable a book as Skin, but Adrienne Maria Vrettos has a knack for stories with a bit of an edge so still enjoyable enough to spend a few hours on!

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