Review: THE DAUGHTERS by Joanna Philbin

April 2, 2010

When fourteen-year-old Lizzie Summers slips up and reveals on camera that being the daughter of a supermodel isn’t always glamorous and wonderful, it sparks a huge fight between her and her mom, but it also prompts a photographer to ask Lizzie to model for her. All her life Lizzie has felt that her crooked nose, frizzy red hair, and bushy eyebrows have made her the beast to her mother’s beauty, though, so she’s not sure she can accept the offer, even if the photographer specializes in “new pretty,” regular people whose flaws make them beautiful. Lizzie also doesn’t know if she can operate in her mother’s world–or if her mom will even let her do it.

Complicating matters further, Todd Piedmont, Lizzie’s childhood friend and the boy with whom she shared her first kiss at eight years old, has just moved back from London and she’s getting mixed signals from him. He seems to be interested in her–he even tried to kiss her before his party–but now he’s dating Ava Elting, the snobbiest girl in school.

Through it all, Lizzie knows she can always count on her friends Carina Jurgensen and Hudson Jones. Carina’s dad runs a media empire and Hudson’s mom is a famous pop star, so they know what it’s like to always be in a parent’s spotlight. Together the girls figure out who they are beyond just being their parents’ daughters and make sense of boys and social politics at school.

Gossip Girl/Clique/Mean Girls-style books aren’t usually my thing, but I liked the twist here that the parents are famous, not the girls themselves–something Philbin must know herself from experience, since she’s the daughter of Regis Philbin. THE DAUGHTERS was also less racy than I was expecting; although one character is accused of “hooking up” with a girl we never meet, the main romantic arc culminates in nothing more than a knee-watering kiss. And in general the characters here were nicer than I was expecting. Maybe all of this gentler content is because the characters are fourteen and the book is aimed at readers 12+.

At some points the writing relies on clichés (Lizzie’s friends are a Brita filter, the clouds are fluffy like cotton candy, someone’s jaw actually drops open) and the romantic part of the plot is fairly predictable and the cliffhanger seemed a little cheap (Lizzie’s story is wrapped up pretty nicely but the last page and a half introduce a new crisis in Carina’s life).

Overall, though, it’s a good first novel that I really warmed up to as I read on. The characters are what make the book interesting: they’re genuinely trying to figure out who they are and to stay true to themselves. Rather than focusing on status and scandal, Lizzie and the other daughters affirm reliability and the importance of friends and family.

A note on the cover: the ARC I have is a similar design, but the three girls are all clearly dark-haired (the girls in the story are a blond, a brunette, and a redhead). The updated cover reflects the girls’ different looks and gives them more interesting outfits. The cover was actually my biggest problem with the book, so I’m glad to see it fixed. I’m still not a fan of the umbrella, but at least the cover models look like the characters.

THE DAUGHTERS will be out in May and the second book in the trilogy, THE DAUGHTERS BREAK THE RULES, comes out in November.

Read more reviews:

Book source: ARC from the publisher at PLA

If you’d like to read this book, I’ll send you my ARC. You have to promise, though, that you’ll either post a review online or send one to the publisher and that you’ll pass it on to someone else when you’re finished with the same conditions attached. Whoever emails me first gets it!

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29 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Elizabeth-Anne  |  September 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Thanks for the great review, I just picked up the book from Indigo last night and I already love it. Thanks a bundle!

  • 2. Gretchen  |  September 9, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Elizabeth-Anne: I’m glad you’re enjoying it and that the review was helpful. :)

  • 3. Breanna Beattie  |  November 2, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    I loved this book !! I am going to get the next book today !

  • 4. Emily  |  January 20, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    This book was very good. I was hooked on it from the beginning to the end. Once I picked it up, I just could not put it down. Thank you for writing a book exactly how I like it, and I am so glad that I decided to read this for a Reading Class project. Again, thank you!

  • 5. Emily  |  February 5, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    I just got a 95% on my project, so thanks THE DAUGHTERS!

  • 6. Keely  |  February 23, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    i love this book very much ! great choice for a book report! :)

  • 7. Anna  |  February 27, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    I LUUUVED This book sooo much! I couldn’t put it down. I was in the middle of reading a book for a book report, but then i started reading this one and finished it in 5 days! And btw im not one to read books! the only over 50 paged books ive ever read was a comic book before this one! anyways, im doing my book report on The Daughters… AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH! IT SPRWASWM! So thanks alot Joanna! <3

  • 8. jess  |  March 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    whaat is the setting for this book? where and when.
    and what are some examples of the summariee

  • 9. Gretchen  |  March 21, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Hm, Jess, I think those questions are best answered if you read the book yourself. I promise it won’t be too painful–and you might actually like it!

  • 10. Melissa  |  March 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    - just got a 98% on my project ! loved this book ! <333'(: thanks joanna ! yoou rockkk ! this book was amazingg ! <3'(: it's my favorite book . thanks again joanna .

    <3'(: :D XD

  • 11. Melissa  |  March 21, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    i also reax the book in 3 days ! 3 days ! i NEVEr read unless i HAVE too . i went to the book fair at my school and bought the book . i honestly didnt think that id like it that much .. I LOVE ITT ! its the best book ive ever readd ! <3' :D XD(: haha thanks joanna ! <3'

  • 12. Melissa  |  March 21, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    * read

  • 13. makinley  |  April 5, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    hey everybody this book i great and i chose it for my book repoet and i did really good so i happy!!!!

    cant wait to reaad the next books!!

  • 14. Sierra  |  May 3, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    I really like this book!! I have read many books, but by far this one i think is my favorite!! I think it is one of the best books EVER!!!! <3 Thank you Joanna!! (For writting the book) <3 :D :)

  • 15. Jessica  |  July 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Does anyone know how many pages are in the book? Thanks.

  • 16. Gretchen  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    @Jessica: the book is 288 pages long.

  • 17. Kate  |  October 16, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    She was 12,not 8yrs old…

  • 18. Tessa  |  October 16, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    This book is amazing(; got a 100% on my project! Whoo!

  • 19. crissyann :)  |  October 23, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    love this book <3

  • 20. Maeve  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    These review helped me understand the book even more because at times it could get confusing. Also my teacher is making us make a story map for this book and does anyone know what the “Place And Time of this book was, if so that would help alot!
    Great Book!
    -Maeve

  • 21. Kayla  |  November 13, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    I love Joanna Philbins book I hope she keeps writing more and more!!!!! I could never put the book down!! One night I was reading and I just started the book and the next thing I know my alarm is going off for me to get ready for school I was so tired and when I got home I went to sleep and got up and finished the book!!!!!!!!

  • 22. Ashton  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    The Daughters was an awesome book! But I can not figure out the setting which I need for my book report! Help?

  • 23. Gretchen  |  November 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    @Ashton: I’m really glad you enjoyed the book! The setting of a book is the time and place where the book happen. So where do the girls live? And what time period is the book set in? Answer those questions and you should be good to go for your report!

  • 24. lexy  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    what is the theme?????

  • 25. Gretchen  |  November 20, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    @Lexy: The theme of a book is the universal message it’s trying to convey. So like, some of the themes of Harry Potter are good versus evil, coming of age, or the power of sacrifice. When you’re trying to figure out the theme of a book (like The Daughters!), you’re trying to figure out what the book is really about, what it’s telling you. Hope that helps!

  • 26. emma  |  December 28, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    i really enjoyed this book and i am using it for a book report and one thing i need for it is the setting i have a really hard time figuring it out and i tried asking myself where they live and what time period the book is set in but it didn’t help someone plz help me i read the book 3 time looked it up the internet like about 15,000000000 times so if someone can plz tell me the answer that would be wonderful thx

  • 27. lauren  |  December 30, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    emma;
    the setting is in new york city :)

  • 28. E  |  January 27, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    what is the theme or message of this book?!

  • 29. Elizabeth-Anne  |  May 6, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    I agree! Great review! Haha we have he same name!!!! so cool

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