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Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong)    by Carrie Rosten order for
Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong)
by Carrie Rosten
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
*   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Chloe Wong Leiberman is a senior with no post-high school plan in place. Her parents dream of a nice academic college, but Chloe thinks: fashion design dream school in London. Her allies are Pau Pau (her maternal grandmother) and flamboyant neighbor La Contessa (part-friend and part-adviser) who has a haute couture background in Paris and London. Chloe's father Stanley is a workaholic lawyer, mother Lucinda is a 'Pilates-obsessed' shopaholic, younger brother Mitchell is a straight A's overachiever, and her paternal grandfather Zeyde is just there. The Leibermans live in 'a ritzy gated community nestled by the sea with three country clubs'.

Chloe lives, breathes, and dreams fashion design - c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y! Always wearing the right 'fashion statement', she changes outfits many times a day, snapping Polaroid pics for her portfolio. Pau Pau asks her, 'Why you need change five times, Chlooe-girl? You only Chinese girl change more times than whole Canton village!' Chloe also (uncontrollably and tactlessly) tells others what they should be wearing, or what she thinks of what they're wearing. Chloe's condition is called 'FD' (Fashion Disorder), i.e. an obsession with vintage clothing and accessories, accompanied by a side order of 'Red Carpetosis'. When Chloe finally announces that she sort of forgot to take her SATs (three times), and sort of forgot to send in college applications, her parents are dismayed and angry. Then comes the report card with lower grades than ever (F in Phys. Ed. as she missed the class sixteen times), and she is placed on academic probation. Chloe's story is written like an application to design school - section headings before groups of chapters include 'Personal Data', 'Extracurricular Activities', and 'Significant Experience or Achievement'.

Carrie Rosten (whose grandfather Leo Rosten wrote screenplays and books, and whose great-uncle William Steig wrote children's books) makes her debut with Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong). Rosten writes with a flair for humor, and her story is character-driven, yet its flow is bumpy and plotless. The word like is over-used and support characters are weak, though colorful (especially the Countess). The book is recommended to teens who identify with Chloe's dilemma - the contrast between what she wants after high school and what parents expect of her. A sequel seems likely, as the author writes: 'THE END. But you know the end is always just the beginning, don't you? Of course you do ...' Like, maybe?

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