Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Rating: ★★★ | 408 pages | Contemporary | Putnam | Release Date: 4/30/2019
16-year-old Elouise doesn't love being the dancing hot dog at the dilated amusement park Magic Castle Playland but the park is her second home and she plans to make her summer working there her best one yet. But as summer commences absolutely nothing goes as she plans.

From the cover, I assumed Hot Dog Girl was a quicky romantic comedy but it feels more like a CW-style romance drama as we watch this group of teens navigate their relationships to each other. I thought the friendship between Elouise and her best friend, Seeley felt genuine and lived in. Elouise is bisexual and Seeley is a lesbian and their identities are part of the story and friendship but not the entire story.

I had some trouble with Elouise. She schemes and uses people (Seeley included) in a way that is meant to be adorable but gave me some Zach Morris is Trash vibes. Instead of facing consequences for her actions (like stealing someone's bank statement to see how much they make) she is seen as endearing and even rewarded for it. It made it hard for me to root for her getting her romance in the end.

I did this on audiobook and the narration was stellar. Brittany Presley’s bright, energetic voice molded to fit the cast of teens in the book. The audiobook features phone sound effects during the texting scenes and I thought it was a nice touch. As more books incorporate texting, e-mails and social media I hope we get more of these audio cues. It added a lot of clarity.

Hot Dog Girl is a somewhat tedious but endearing story of friendship, love and growing up.

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