By Meg Cabot
I looked at Tina, and Tina looked at me, and then both of us looked at our body guards. But they were busy arguing over whether rubber-tipped bullets really did hurt rioters or if it was better just to use hoses.
Do you know how many comedies have won an Oscar for Best in Picture over the last 86 years? Seven. And half of them most people don’t even consider a true comedy. Comedies don’t win awards. They don’t win Oscars, they don’t win Newbery Medals, they don’t win Tonys. I find that curious, because it doesn’t seem very hard to make people sad or thoughtful. Isn’t there enough drama in our every day lives? Aren’t we all constantly on the brink of depression anyway? All you have to do to make a story dramatic is pit the main character against friends or family, kill off a couple minor characters, give them some ultimate quest, or make them the subject of a prophecy. Bam. Instant drama. But making someone laugh . . . that is a true talent. I find that much more daunting, because how do you take a story about every day life and make people laugh out loud? I don’t know, but Meg Cabot does.
Cabot brings to life Mia Thermopolis, a freshman in high school who is just worried about passing algebra and fitting in at school. She’s awkward, bad at math, and passionate about Greenpeace. Oh, and SURPRISE, she’s the Princess of Genovia. This last fact is sprung on her during her freshman year, and she turns to her diary to record all of her thoughts on that subject and the mayhem that ensues. Her frank tone and head on approach will make you laugh out loud. She is a sincere and lovable character, and Cabot finds humor in almost every one of Mia’s situations, from the endearingly awkward to the jaw-dropping outrageous.
Cabot perfectly channels the thoughts and feelings of a fourteen-year old girl through Mia, and although her discovery that she is a princess is cute and a fun inciting incident, that isn’t what makes the book so charming. Cabot captures her audience and brings smiles to their faces by connecting with them. Mia is relatable because she is more concerned about finding a date to the school dance or trying to forget that her mom is dating her Algebra teacher than she is about being a fashion icon and learning proper etiquette. We’ve all been through puberty, and we all understand the desire to fit in and be liked, and for Mia, being a princess is making both of those things just that much harder.