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Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. How many times do we hear this in a lifetime? Jennifer Taylor seems to have it all. The money, the looks, the grades, the boy… Carolyn Samuels has lived in Jennifer’s shadow throughout school and now, with the pivotal move to senior high, the trend shows no sign of going away. “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe” is a mantra that follows her into high school and, with the first day of school upon her, their alphabetical arrangement promises to continue the agony. But when Carolyn finds herself linked to Jennifer in an immoral pact of secrecy, her life changes in ways she never could have imagined. Balancing a fine line between her best friends Becky and Janie on one side and Jennifer on the other, Carolyn learns the true value of loyalty and the importance of appreciating a life she always imagined as sub-par.
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu is the quintessential tale of adolescence. While Carolyn experiences the need to be accepted at the popular table, the “pretty people” fall deeper into their own hidden insecurities. Carolyn realizes the value of being true to herself as she struggles with the need to be accepted. Combined with a respectful sub-plot of realistic issues with weight, emotional acceptance, and the growing pains of first love, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor captures the very essence of teenage angst in this clean YA novel. My heart aches for Carolyn and my head nods in sympathy.