Tag Archives: Cecily von Ziegesar

Banned Books Week Spotlight – Gossip Girl Series

What: Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Zeigesar

Why:

Banned for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, being unsuited to age group and offensive language.

Thoughts:

This series has been on the most challenged books list since 2006, and often for the same chain of reasoning, as stated above. Yes, this is a mature and somewhat graphic book. It does glamorize drugs (weed) sex (the never ending quest to lose one’s virginity before the age of 18) and friendship, backstabbing and shopping binges.

Is this book realistic? Not in comparison on my high school. Is this book over the top? Comletely. And the funny part, is that these characters doing these controversial things are flawed, clueless and immature. They are not role models, nor are they meant to be role models. The series has since transformed intself into a milder TV show. I wouldn’t recommend this book for teens under the age of 16, because of the mature content, but no matter how outlandish, the issues the teens these book deal with are symbolic of the same issues all teens deal with: peer pressure, friendship, puberty and maturity.
Instead of challenging these books, why not sit down with your child and discuss the issues and consequences and how they could relate to your child.

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You can read my review of the series by following these links:

Gossip Girl here

You Know You Love Me here

All I Want is Everything here

Because I’m Worth It here

I Like It Like That here

I Like It Like That – Review

***If you haven’t read Gossip Girl, You Know You Love Me , All I Want is Everything, and Because I’m Worth It, then this review will most likely be a spoilers for you, so please skid ahead!***

Gossip Girl book # 5 takes Blair and Serena to the snowy Sun Valley during the school winter break. Unbeknownst to the girls, Nate is also going to be at Sun Valley with current girlfriend and recovering drug addict, Georgina Sparks. Dan Humphrey is now a famous published poet in the New Yorker trying to make amends with his ex Vanessa and finding work as an assistant to one of the most pretentious editors of an elite poetry magazine. Jenny Humphrey is determined to figure out why her new boyfriend is so secretive about his family and his lifestyle. Chuck Bass? Well, he just gets in trouble anywhere he goes.

Book 5 is just as drama filled as the previous four, although at this point Blair seems to be a little bit more toned down. She has only two missions in life, to get into Yale and to lose her virginity, both of which she persues endlessly in each book, only to hit some type of roadblock along the way. After my complaints about Serena’s in the last book, she does have a somewhat strong character in I Like It Like That, but she still seems like a flimsy character, and nothing at all like her TV counterpart.

I have actually started watching the TV show, and so far, only the pilot and the second episode actually follows the book. The rest take on their own life and personality. Because they are so different, I enjoy each for their own sake. Its sort of funny how my boyfriend, who doesn’t watch the show with me, nor has he read any of my reviews, caught a snippet of the show last night and said “so, is this like Sex and the City for teens?” Hah! I love that. Its the first and most fitting description. This book does get really outrageous at times. Where are the parents?!? In this book we are finally introduced to Vanessa’s parents, but Serena’s parents are still in hiding, Blair’s mother is still lackadaisical and oblivious and Rufus Humphrey is well…father of the year in comparison. What is Cecily von Ziegesar trying to say? Are Dan and Jenny better off with their middle-class dad than their wealthier counterparts? I don’t know, if you’ve read the books, then you tell me. In my opinion, all these kids are a bit screwy.

Also, we are about 5 books into the series and have yet to see a significant role devoted to someone of color. The only two minority characters are Katy and Isabel and thus far they have played a pretty low-key and unmemorable roles, which is a sad message to send to kids of color reading this series. Only the white are rich and only the white-rich actually matter. Even in the TV show you see mostly white kids, except for the role of Vanessa. In the book she’s a white, gothic, rebel chick. In the TV, she’s still a rebel, but has a full head of fashionably styled hair and matching clothing attire. For the most part, I think teens are used to seeing only white actors on TV shows or in magazines. Its not a message that should be accepted. While Cecily addresses a class issue in her books, the race card is still left unturned.

I Like it Like That (Gossip Girl #5)
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown and Company, 2004
ISBN 0316735183
202 pages

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Because I’m Worth It – Review

***If you haven’t read Gossip Girl, You Know You Love Me and All I Want is Everything, then this review will most likely be a spoilers for you, so please skid ahead!***

Book 4 of the Gossip Girl series takes us on an adventure of love. Winter break is over, and now the month is February. Seniors are in a bad case of “senior slump” and are now making new friends. Jenny befriend’s Elise during a mentoring meeting the two attend with Bloair and Serena as their senior mentors. Nate gets busted buying weed from his dealer and is sent to rehad where he falls for the dangerously alluring Georgina Sparks. Blair is on an never-ending mission to find her way guarenteed to Yale, and Serena, well, Serena is the embodiment of the word spontaneity.

4 books into the series, and I’m still loving it. Serena is starting to get incredibly annoying and vapid. I roll my eyes whenever the author talks about Serena’s beauty and demeanor (it gives me flashbacks of Stephanie Meyers’ incessant descriptions of Edward as Godlike). Up until this book, many of the character situations and circumstances seemed somewhat believable. But Serena being pulled into a fashion show and all of a sudden being the hottest thing to hit the runways, is well in teenspeak – gag-inducing. I’m not exactly sure what Cecily von Ziegesar’s intention is with Serena, but for now, she’s a throwaway character, the opposite of Blair. Whereas the first few books were focused on Serena’s return to Manhattan, we saw a girl with depth, vulnerability and insecurities. The new popular Serena is aimless and now all the focus of the books is on Blair. The sexual shock-factor of the series has calmed down at this point, and we wait for now is to see what happens to Blair and how far she’ll go to get into Yale.

For anyone keeping track, the series is nothing like the TV show, and I like them both equally.

Because I’m Worth It
Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown and Company, 2003
ISBN 0316909688
234 pages

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All I Want is Everything – Review

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All I Want is Everything by Cecily von Ziegesar
Age: Teen
Genre: Fiction
Location: New York

If you haven’t read Gossip Girl, and You Know You Love Me, then this review might be a spoiler for you, so please skip on if you plan on reading the series at some point.

Book three of the Gossip Girl series finds us at the cusp of midterms and winter break at Constance Billard School for girls. Newly reunited best friends, Blair and Serena navigate through the high school waters of gossip and boy trouble well dressed and knowing exactly what they want, which is as the title says, everything. Blair is furiously focused on writing her early admissions essay for Yale, despite the family vacation to the elite St. Bart’s. Serena is yet again the inadvertent focus of attention of famous frontman for the hit band 45, Flow. Dan and Vanessa decide if they want to the next physical step in their relationship and Jenny falls even more head over heels managing to snag Nate away from Blair at the end of book 2.

This series is really addicting. I have a bias towards it mostly because I got caught up in the TV series last season. I have the characters already pictured in my head and have some sort of idea of what their future is. It is fun comparing the differences between the on-screen characters and the written characters. Blair Waldorf is still my absolute favorite with her snide sarcasm and her earnest desire to get into Yale and find true love and be just like Audrey Hepburn, and I adore her fashion sense in the TV show. Von Ziegesar does a fantastic job of capturing the teenage crush mentality; when the boy you adore is seeminly perfect and every single thing they do makes them more perfect than they were 5 seconds ago (see Jenny and Nate’s baby-romance budding in this book). While sex, and booze are the hallmark habits of most of the teens, this book takes a step back and focuses more on the personalities and quality traits of the characters over the more superficial and distracting qualities. A great series for teens and adults as well.

All I Want is Everything
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown and Company, 2003
ISBN 0316912123
215 pages

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You Know You Love Me – Review

Book two of the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar jumps in right where the first book left off. If you don’t remember where book one ended, I suggest stopping by a local library or bookstore and reading the final chapter before diving into this book, otherwise you’ll be a bit confused with where the story starts. Although Cecily does recap a little, it took a while for the first book’s ending to sink in to my memory. The second book is written as a continuation of the first, which I think is one reason why it made such a fantastic crossover into a TV series.

You Know You Love Me features all the same characters and provides more character development and growth. The first book merely introduced us to all the important characters in a glitzy, contemporary and fun way. The second book takes these characters and really shows us their true colors. You Know You Love Me further follows Serena van de Woodson’s attempts at recreating a social life for herself at a preppy New York private all-girl’s school after being snubbed out of the elite social group by her former best friend Blair Waldorf. In the sequal, Serena turns to the not so rich and fabulous duo of Dan and Jenny Humphrey for companionship. While Serena is reinventing herself as a novice film director and finding friendship in the places she would have least suspected, Blair is burdened with her mother’s impending marriage to her “gross” boyfriend Cyrus Rose. There is more salt in Blair’s wounds when Blair finds out that Serena has been asked to be one of the bridesmaids.  Will this wedding reunite them in friendship, or will it just push them farther away?

That being said, the second book was not as good as the first, but only because Gossip Girl was a completely refreshing read. A third of the way into You Know You Love Me, and I am already familiar with the author’s quippy one-liners and seeminly accurate internal monologues of the horny teenage mind. The teens in the book are amazingly written, and I wonder just how much time Cecily von Ziegesar actually spends with New York elite teens to get material for her books. The characters are addicting, I love Blair’s multi layers of bitch and vulnerable, love-sick teenage girl. There is a love tug-of-war between Serena and Blair over Nate, and most girls know that fighting over a boy usually tends to end badly. I think this series is a great read for teens, they’ll be able to latch on to their favorite characters. While Cecily does glamorize the drugs and sex, she also makes a point of highlight these activities as folly’s not so much as condoned recreation.

FINAL GRADE: B+

You Know You Love Me
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown and Co., 2002
ISBN 0316911488
227 pages

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