Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Currently available.
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Face Value: This cover simply does not do the story justice. Libby is extremely clever, and a girl pulling a cell phone out of her bosom does not convey the hilarity of this book. This cover makes it look like a story of secret seduction, when the book is truly more about the sweet, awkward moments that make a memorable summer.
Does it break the slate? Not quite. Libby has all of the qualities necessary to be a Slatebreaker. She is smart, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Unfortunately, she sometimes underestimates people and lets things like outward appearance win her over before she delves deeper. I did love how Libby was a female character who was full of contradictions. She loves the color pink, has an interest in fashion, and enjoys domestic pursuits. She also studies history intently and enjoys classic literature. Despite the initial impressions people may have of Libby, she consistently proves them wrong.
Who would we give it to? Girls who loved Felicity from American Girl will dig the setting (Libby works as a historical re-enactor at a 1700s living history museum). If you enjoyed reading Past Perfect by Leila Sales, this is another great book about a smart girl working in historical garb and experiencing the contrast of past and present.
Review: Libby Kelting is a walking contradiction. She is a petite blonde who appreciates a healthy dose of the pink and shiny. She is also an aspiring historian with strong attention to detail, and love history so much that she has memorized everything she can about life in early America. Libby decides to indulge her historical interests by taking a summer internship at a living history museum in Maine. It is vastly different from her life back in St. Paul, Minnesota, but Libby welcomes the change in setting.
Immediately upon arrival, Libby realizes a few things. Working at a maritime museum brings with it the perk of very attractive male re-enactors playing the role of sailors. It also comes with some built-in tension, as Libby immediately finds out that she does not get along well with an uptight roommate. To avoid the distraction of boys and bad roommates, Libby throws herself into her work. She runs a historical day camp for girls and makes sure that everyday is an engaging learning experience for them.
I loved that Libby was so in love with her job. She had a passion for history and made sure that those girls also loved what they were learning. And although Libby sometimes behaves in a way that others view as feminine or flighty, she is a hard worker. She learns to bake using traditional over-the-fire techniques. She moves out of her house and onto a supposedly haunted ship in order to get past the roommate issues, which is not something that every girl could handle.
Libby makes a few ill-informed decisions that complicate her summer. She falls for the hot guy instead of the nice one, and although the relationship doesn’t get very far, it takes far too long for her to see the error of her ways. Strohm writes this mishap in a way that makes us like Libby even more, rather than thinking less of her. Everybody makes stupid relationship mistakes sometimes. Libby handles her with humor and strength.
As summer approaches, I highly recommend Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink for warm weather reading. It has the fun and romance of a fluffier book, but don’t be fooled. There is real substance behind that goofy cover. Libby Kelting is a character who embraces the idea that women can have a multitude of interests, and that no stereotype gives the full picture of who a person may be. And this book is straight up fun. There is nothing better than an honest-to-goodness fun book read outside on a sunny day.
Reviewed from a library copy.
I don’t come across all that many ‘I want to work for a museum!’ type books aimed at this audience, but this one sounds entertaining. Thanks for the review, I’ll have to check it out.