Geena can’t wait to spend summer vacation with her two best girls: her friend Amber and her cousin Hero. All three are working at the Triple Shot Betty coffee shop together, but the moment Amber and Hero meet, the claws come out. They hate each other on sight. Geena’s dreams of a girl-bonding summer fly out the window, and then threaten to disappear completely when a few cute (okay, drop-dead gorgeous) guys come along to woo the Bettys. But all is not what it seems, and in a story of mistaken identities, crazy summer high jinks, and enough romance to make Shakespeare proud, Geena and her friends learn that when Bettys unite, they can take on the most powerful force in their world: a hot guy.
Grade: A - Absolutely Fantastic!
Most novels I read require an adjustment period, a small frame of time in which I get used to the writing, the characters, and the setting. This one didn't--I was grabbed by the neck in a choke-hold from page 1, easing straight into its rhythm.
Geena's plotting for perfection when she lines her cousin, Hero, up a job at Triple Shot Betty, a coffee shop her best friend, Amber, and her work at. But Hero and Amber clash at first sight, and the great summer Geena was envision begins to fall apart. Figure in a case of mistaken identities and a group of boys who are not exactly what they seem, and trouble starts shaking up in paradise. It's up to the Triple Shot Bettys, armed and armored with a legion of wronged girls, to set things straight once and for all.
There are many, many reasons I loved this novel. Behold:
I've probably said this in every review I've ever written, but I'm such a character-driven person, it's not even funny. I loved the characters Jody Gehrman created here: they all had a certain depth, and even the bad-guy, which usually comes out archetypal in most novels, had substantial development.
I'm also a sucker for feel-good feminist stories. This one's it. It's very subtle, without an overload of women-vs-men superiority, and it gets a clean message across.
The voice. This is very good chick lit. I caught some passages which reminded me faintly of Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. This goes to say something, because I'm one of those people who worships Megan McCafferty and thinks of Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings as the best teen chick-lit books ever.
The plot. Most novels I've read recently are beautiful coming-of-age pieces with great characters but just very little actual plot. Not here. Do we have the coming-of-age aspect to it? Yup. But it's paired with a strong, compelling plot as well.
Summin' it up: I loved this novel. Loved it. Recommendation? YES, absolutely! Get it, get it, get it.
Oh, and I hear we've got another book in the works (squee!), so this is not the last you'll see of these characters, on my blog and elsewhere.
Now for the QnA...
Book QnA (with Jodi!)
Where did you get the idea for Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty?
I got the idea like this: my boyfriend and I would sometimes get coffee at this little espresso stand, and we loved the girls who worked there--they were funny and sassy and good at what they did. They inspired us to write a song called "Mocha Shack Girl." (I've posted this song on my MySpace profile, if you want to hear it; it's also on the Penguin web page for Triple Shot Betty: www.penguin.com/confessionsofatripleshotbetty). After that I got the idea to use a drive through espresso stand as a setting for a book. While I was mulling this over one of my students started telling me hilarious stories about Espresso a Go-Go, the place where she worked, and pretty soon I was hooked on the idea. It just seemed like the perfect backdrop for drama--a magical little claustrophobic world where the caffeine is free and you've got a constant stream of characters you can interact with, but none of them have access to the inner sanctum of the coffee shack.
Geena, the narrator of the book, is a skater. Are you a skater yourself?
Not at all. I mean, I did have a little pink skateboard when I was like seven (my boyfriend uncovered it in my mom's garage and proudly displays it in our home now--he's a skater and our entryway is filled with his boards) but I never got very good. I windsurf now, so that's a board sport, but the thought of crashing in water is just so much more pleasant than crashing on pavement.
Did you ever work in a coffee shop like your main characters do? If so, was Triple Shot Betty--the coffee shop, not the book--based on it?
I was never a barista, though I do have a little espresso machine at home At the moment it's on the blink, though--I think I killed it. I've had a million different random jobs (cocktail waitress, massage therapist, publicist, editor, tutor, etc.) but barista was never one of them. My fantasy life includes an in-house barista who can whip me up a different concoction each day to match my mood!
Which of the characters do you like the best?
Ooh, that's difficult. I love Geena, of course, but Amber's the one who really snuck up on me. She's not really in Much Ado about Nothing, so that was a bit awkward, but I just loved her attitude and her in-your-face bravado. She features much more prominently in the sequel, Triple Shot Bettys in Love.
Was it your idea to make the book scented? What's the story behind that?
The marketing department at Penguin came up with that--inspired, right? They had to sort through all of these scratch-n-sniff samplers to find just the right one. I'm very in touch with my nose, so I really liked the idea. I wonder what I would have said, though, if someone had told me when I was in graduate school that my novel would be scratch-n-sniff. When I was first comitting to being a writer I tended to take myself so seriously, but at this point in my career a little whimsy is appreciated. If the scented cover makes one more person pick it up and flip through it, that's the goal. Writers want readers; otherwise, we're just talking to ourselves, which has its place but ultimately can feel empty after awhile.
What message, if any, do you hope the reader takes with them after reading this book?
This is difficult because I hate to sound preachy, but I'll do my best. I hope they see that friendship is possible among very different types of people. I hope they think twice before applying the"slut" label to other girls, and that they won't be afraid to stand up to people who rule the social scene through malicious gossip. I also hope they enter into the Triple Shot Betty world and have a good time there, just for the sake of having a good time.
I hear there's a sequel underway, titled Triple Shot Bettys in Love! Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
It's loosely based on Cyrano De Bergerac. Amber falls for a hot young teacher and Geena has to help her pose as a hyper-intellectual college student to impress him. Geena and Ben are still major players, but (as you might guess) the road to love isn't exactly smooth. There are wigs and valentines and lots of coffee, as usual. We're looking at January 09 as a possible pub date. The cover will most likely be scratch-n-sniff on that one, too!
Tomorrow = Interview with Jody! Watch out for it. Also, on Monday, I'll be doing a contest relating to Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, which I hope everyone will tune in for :)
Saturday, May 10, 2008