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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

Tag Archives: lauren mechling

Lauren Mechling’s the co-author of three novels: The Rise and Fall of a 10th grade Social Climber, All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th Grade Social Climber, and Foreign Exposure: The Social Climber Abroad. Now she’s got a new series about a French girl who receives psychic dreams from a cameo necklace given to her by her grandmother.   The first, Dream Life, was published in 2009  and this January Dream Girl was released.

You can read my reviews of Dream Life and Dream Girl reviews.   Visit Lauren’s website at LaurenMechling.com

Can I say that Lauren is the fastest interview answerer I’ve ever met?!

A large plot element of both Dream Girl and Dream Life are the dreams of Claire, which are confusing and a mixture of different things.  Going off this theme, what’s one of the strangest dreams you’ve ever had?

There was a very sweet football player in my homeroom named Pete (well, that wasn’t his name, but let’s say it was). I dreamed that he had a kangaroo body and he stuffed me inside his pouch and I was stuck to his stomach all day long. Not only was it a weird dream, but it was very awkward–I could never look him in the eye after that.

Throughout the novels, Claire narrates what several characters are wearing, as well as her own ensembles. Which of Claire’s dresses or outfits would you want for your very own?

I would kill to have her colorful Givenchy dresses. They’d have to be simple, though–Im not the most adventurous dresser.

In other interviews, you’ve stated that all of Claire’s world in NYC is factual. I have two days to spend in New York City, and I’ve never been. In the voice of Claire, can you tell me what I should see and do?

You’ll have to forgive me–I’m writing something else now in the third person and I’m not feeling equal to re-infiltrating Claire (besides, I hardly know her anymore–it’s been a year and a half since I finished Dream Life and she was just on the cusp of in-her-own-skin greatness; can only imagine how much she’s grown since). Anyway, as ME talking, I’d say the best thing to do in New York is walk around as much as humanly possible and watch the neighborhoods change. Start in Dumbo Brooklyn and look up at the underbelly of the Manhattan Bridge (DUMBO=Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Walk 5 minutes to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and set out on the most glorious pedestrian experience of your life (assuming the bikes dont mow you down). When you get to Manhattan, ogle at City Hall and the Municipal Building, with its glittery gold top. Wander up Centre and Lafayette Streets, through Chinatown and into the East Village, which used to be where all the strung-out poets lived and now is filled with vintage clothing stores and vegan tea shops. End up at Momofuku Milk Bar, on 12th St and 2nd Ave. Buy yourself a piece of crack pie. Heck, buy a whole pie and make friends with the other customers. You’re on vacation.

What’s your writing process like? Do you outline, plan out plot points, or just do it on the fly?

My books have so many threads and subplots and supporting characters I have to outline like a maniac.

Women’s History Month is next month and I’ll be making a post or two related to the observance. Claire is such a fun heroine, with her plucky spirit and wry voice. Who are some are your favorite heroines, real or fictional?

I love Scarlett O’Hara, for her humor and foolishness; Anne Elliot, the 27-year-old spinster (!) in Persuasion for her refusal to settle; the writer Grace Paley for her gumption and grit; Julia Child for giving late bloomers a good reputation; Norma Klein for making everyone remember that children are smart.

What five celebrities (writers included!) living or dead, would you like to have dinner with? Do you have any particular questions you’d ask them?

I’ve met enough celebrities to know this would not be all that fun. I prefer my celebrities from afar.

What’s your favorite word?

Ort. It means uneatened morsel.

I always ask authors… If you could live inside any children’s title, which would it be and why?

Dream Life. Because it is my fantasy world.

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With a name like Claire Voyante, it’s no surprise she has prophetic dreams.  Such is the plot of Lauren Mechling’s novel Dream Girl.  The dreams, while yielding helpful clues to real-life circumstances, are assembled bits and pieces, and Claire is left to sort through them for what’s meaningful.  The hodgepodge nature mirrors Lauren Mechling’s novel with its mix of romance, mystery, and high-school story. Unlike the dreams, however, all the elements of Dream Girl are useful and noticable.  It’s a delightful pastiche.

Claire Voyante has a multitude of problems. The black and white dreams were just the beginning, but now the cameo necklace from her grandmother has amplified them, and she’s become like a detective running all over New York City, trying to piece things together.   Add to that she’s been forced to leave to her nurturing “gifted and talent school” for a nerd school, where the only person she knows is friend-turned-enemy Sheila Vird.

When she makes a new friend, Becca Shuttleworth, Claire’s dreams start pointing her towards something dangerous awaiting them, and she must intervene.

When interviewing authors, I always ask “If you could live inside any children’s title, which would it be and why?” I’d have to say that one of my potential answers to that question would be Dream Girl. Mechling has created a fun world and I, for one, want to live in it.  From Claire’s apartment building full of professors, to her former socialite grandmother, Kiki, there’s so much going on in this book.  Claire herself was just as interesting, with typical teen worries mixed with a burdening paranormal issue. I particularly liked how Claire’s dreams didn’t just outright tell her what path to take, but were puzzles she must put together. With this tactic, the reader slowly learned how they all fit at the same pace as Claire.

Dream Girl buzzes with descriptions – fashion and decor, brilliantly pictured down to the last detail. Usually such lists of “who was wearing what” bore me, and tread into Gossip Girl territory, but I savored each word. The characters were so enjoyable, and well-developed, from their little quirks.  It’s here in the description of the characters were Mechling’s writing shines, such as in this passage on Sheila Vird’s pack of “BDLs” (Best Dressed List..self-monikored, of course):

“There was no question about it – these girls were awful. I could just see it: they have been nerds all their lives and had only recently schooled themselves in the art of being popular by watching bad Disney Channel movies.”

There’s a lot of other passages I could highlight, but I urge you to read the book.  And tell me you don’t covet Claire’s life just a little bit ..whether it’s her haute fashion collection or her eccentric company of friends and family.

In closing..throughout the novel, Claire turns to 60’s girl groups’ music when upset. These mentions plus the overwhelming Frenchness of the book (Claire’s father a French professor, her mother trying desperately to pass as French) led me to seek out some music related to the novel. On Twitter, Lauren Mechling commented that “Peanut Duck” by Marsha Gee is Claire’s theme song.

Listen to Peanut Duck at the Beat! MP3 Blog

I was curious to hear some French music, and fell in love with April March after searching for a bit, so I’ll link to her Last.fm page.

A sequel, Dream Life, was released today. I’ll have a review for that this week as well.

Review copy provided to me by the publisher.

Title: Dream Girl
Author: Lauren Mechling
Date:  2008 Hardback/2009 Paperback
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 311
Format:  Hardback & Paperback

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