Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale by Gigi Levangie Grazer

In a unique storytelling manner,   Gigi Levangie Grazer introduces us to Perry: a latina teen from a single parent home who is both smarter than, yet poorer than her classmates.  A scholarship student, she is earning extra money tutoring those in her classes, while she sets her sights on the exclusive Bennington School, where she hopes to further her education and become a writer.  To that end, Perry is using examples from the students she tutors to explain life in terms of the seven deadly sins: Lust, Wrath, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Envy, and Pride.

Each story is cleverly drawn, providing a voice for Perry as her fourteen year old self: from funny to unexpectedly insightful, this is a young woman who has honed her skills of observation, and thought carefully on her conclusions.   Perry is better developed with a sense of who she is from the inclusion of these stories, and nicely enhanced with the carefully cultivated relationship with her mother that the author has highlighted.  In fact, second only to the admiration of Perry is the solid and thoughtful character of Yelena, and her obvious attention to parenting and developing life skills in her daughter.

So often, stories told from the point of view of a teenager are fraught with angst and self-delusion or deprecation: there is none of that here.  Perry has a plan, a steady path that she is working to implement that plan, and goals to achieve once she gets there.  When combined with the unique perspective on the “sins”, and finding her way to utilize that what she has observed and apply it to her own life is both magical and well-formulated.   Not at all what I was expecting when I read this book, I found it to be clever and witty, with a solid sense of presenting a real single-parent family that is surviving and thriving despite the odds.

Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale by Gigi Levangie Grazer Author: Gigi Levangie Grazer
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Blue Rider Press
Source: Penguin First To Read
Rated: four-stars
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New York Times bestselling author Gigi Levangie Grazer returns withSeven Deadlies, a witty and wildly different novel set amid the sinful reaches of Beverly Hills, narrated by a captivating, gimlet-eyed Mexican-American heroine.

Perry Gonzalez is not like the other kids in her Beverly Hills high school—a full-blooded Latina on a scholarship, living in a tiny apartment with her mother, she doesn’t have much in common with the spoiled, privileged kids who are chauffeured to school every morning. But Perry is a budding young writer with her sights set on Bennington—and her seven deadly stories are her ticket to the Ivory Tower. To pay her way, Perry’s been babysitting (correction: teenage-sitting) and tutoring the neighborhood kids, and she has seen the dark side of adolescence: lust for the “Judas Brothers” that leads to electrocution at a private birthday party concert; wrath that inspires new and perverse family bonds; and greed, in a young Bernie Madoff acolyte who conceives of a copycat Ponzi scheme involving his own grandmother.

A copy of this title was provided via Penguin First To Read for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Gigi Levangie Grazer

Gigi Levangie Grazer is the author of three prior novels: Rescue Me (2000), Maneater (2003), and The Starter Wife (2006). The Starter Wife was adapted for an Emmy Award–winning USA Network miniseries starring Debra Messing, and later for a television series; Maneater was adapted for a Lifetime miniseries starring Sarah Chalke in May 2009. In addition, Gigi wrote the screenplay for Stepmom, starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. Gigi’s articles have appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour. She lives in L.A. with her two children and three miniature dachshund