Hotlanta by Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller 2008
Book 1 in Hotlanta Series
IQ "They liked it that way; that anonymity gave them the opportunity to show each other who they really were, without being forced to color in the lines that their friends, their families and even they had created for themselves." Lauren pg. 169
Hotlanta is chick lit and while it is cliched, it is also a bit unpredictable and has a twist to it that adds a little more depth to the story. The twist is that twins Lauren and Sydney Duke's biological father, Dice is in jail and the story starts off right when Dice is released from jail. The twins mother, Keisha, remarried when they were five and the girls stepfather, Altimus, is a wealthy car dealership owner and they live in the most exclusive community of Atlanta (Buckhead). They go to a fancy, exclusive, predominately African American school and they have it all. Looks, cars, boys, anything they want. However, the twins are very different with their own secrets. Sydney wants to go to an Ivy League school, has a boyfriend (Marcus) and wants to reconnect with her father, even though her mother has forbade her to ever see, call or write to him. Lauren is the party girl, captain of the varsity dance squad, a flavor of the month guy, and wants nothing to do with Dice. But Lauren meets a new boy, from the 'hood (Jermaine) and she really likes him, but Altimus and Keisha don't want her hanging around the rougher neighborhoods of Atlanta. The girls learn their family has dark, dangerous secrets, that could ruin their reputations and change the way they see their family.
Most of the characters were cliches. Especially Lauren and Sydney. One was studious, the other was a party girl. Lauren was the typical varsity dance team captain and Lauren was president or chair of all her extracurriculars. But the girls had a few points of originality. For Sydney, it was the relationship she had with her boyfriend Marcus. Marcus was seen as the perfect guy for her, a politician for a mother, smart, nice, a true gentleman. He has dreadlocks and is very pro-Africa and insists Sydney wear her in its natural state, no perms for her. I found it interesting how Sydney went along for much of what her boyfriend told her to do. Yes he was seemingly perfect, but he was very controlling too and I liked watching Sydney grow into her independence. Lauren's relationship was a cliche, the whole 'boy from the wrong side of the tracks' thing, but at the end a mystery occurs that adds a new and engrossing spin to their relationship and the next books in the series. Lauren doesn't mature much in this first book, which is realistic. People don't always completely reform themselves by the end of a book, but I think Lauren will grow in the next books. Readers will start to see her mature by the end of this book, but the transformation is not complete. The twins relationship was interesting. They weren't that close and they did/said awful things to each other that I can't imagine saying to my sister (maybe it's a twin thing? because my sister gets on my nerves and we aren't very close, but I would not do/say the things the twins do/say to each other).
The relationship the girls have with each of their parents is interesting. Altimus seems scary. He gives the girls whatever he wants, but when he loses his cool, he's scary and the authors do a good job of describing his anger. He's very much into keeping the family's image clean. The twins have always considered him their father and he never gets involved when Sydney is arguing with her mother over visiting Dice, saying it's his wife's decision. The girls mother is crazy. She's materialistic and way to into her image and the image of her family. She basically trains her kids to be just like her, and she could care less about what they want. The relationship between Dice and Sydney is sweet and I like how she stays close to him, although I'm curious as to why she did and her sister didn't. The rest of the characters are cliches, although I was surprised about Marcus and how 'smooth' he could be and I liked how he was a popular, Black Power kind of guy, he's different from the usual 'dating head football/basketball player' cliche (but he's still popular so it's not to far off from the cliche).
The ending is a cliffhanger and I want to continue to read the books (I'm rereading them and I've forgotten about what happens) to find out what happens next, because the mystery adds a great element of intrigue and I want to know more. The story can be a little tedious sometimes and heavy on the details and I don't particularly much about the romantic relationships the twins have, since that's a cliche, but I do want to see Lauren grow a little more and I'm curious about Sydney's future. The authors also do a great job of describing Atlanta, I feel like I know the area well. Ultimately, (as much as I hate comparing literature written by poc to literature written by whites), it was nice to read our own version of Gossip Girl, about selfish, rich, black people with some excitement in their lives and seeing that we can (and do) achieve that kind of wealth. We deserve a variety and Hotlanta will satisfy the Gossip Girl/Clique/etc. reading set. And the cover? I really like it because it has two African Americans girls with faces!!! (that's what first made me pick up the book, so take that publishers, I pick up books with AA faces on them :p) High school and up.