Posted by: Ms. Matson | July 1, 2009


Polly Shulman
New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006
Genre: Young Adult romance, fiction
Interest level: Middle grades, maybe high school
AR level: 5.4

From the front flap:

“Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is an enthusiast.  Julie never knows what new obsession will catch Ashleigh’s fancy, but she does know she’s likely to be drawn into the madness.

Ashleigh’s latest craze is Julie’s own passion, Pride and Prejudice.  But Ashleigh can’t just appreciate it as a great read; she insists on emulating the novel’s nineteenth-century heroines, in speech, dress, and most important of all—their quest for True Love. So Julie finds herself with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks, sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school, where they discover some likely candidates.  Maybe this obsession of Ashleigh’s isn’t so bad, if it leads to love—but for whom?”

The other day I started wondering if there are young adult novels similar to typical shoujo manga.  Of course there are, but I couldn’t think of any that I’d read.  Until today.  Though I didn’t realize it until I was three-quartehanakimi bedrs of the way through the book, Enthusiasm reads like a high school, slice of life, romance shoujo manga.  [slight spoiler ahead]  It finally clicked when I got to the bed scene (not that kind of scene, they just ended up sharing a bed) between Julie and Parr.  “For a long time we lay at out separate edges of the bed, back to back, the inch between us burning like lava” (p. 161).  As soon as I read that, I thought of Mizuki and Sano in Hana Kimi, and their frequent, often accidental, nights in the same bed.  Ha ha!  Fun indeed, to feel your own heart beating as if you were the character in question.

Enthusiasm starts a bit slow, and maybe a bit boring, but keep reading because it gets better.  Once I was able to see Enthusiasm as a sister to shoujo, it became a lot more enjoyable.   High-quality literature this is not.  But it is a fun, light, high school romance, and a good start for a new author.  I liked that she used some Austenian turns of phrase.  Schulman, through Julie’s voice, has some funny observations about modern society, particularly dance.  In comparing the Quadrille with modern dances she says it

“couldn’t be more unlike twenty-first century dancing.  Today, a couple or small group stands together, rhythmically contorting their arms, shoulders, torso, hips, and lower limbs.  The point is to wiggle in harmony with one’s companions while distinguishing oneself from the crowd by imaginatively displaying one’s attractive parts, all the while avoiding—as far as possible—looking like a dork” (p 43).

The more I think about Enthusiasm, the more I like it.  While many young adult chick lit type books are not, this is a good, clean, and fairly innocent, read.  I think there is a lot to identify with in the story.   Glad I read it; definitely worth the few hours it took to finish.



  1. […] Swords)25. 5M4B (Eat My Globe)26. 5M4B (Jillian Dare)27. teachergirl (the dead & the gone)28. teachergirl (Enthusiasm)29. teachergirl (The Declaration)30. Seth H. (Relentless – Dean Koontz)31. Petunia (Serpent in […]

  2. […] story reminds me of Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm because it’s centered around a girl finding romance through her literary interests.  Like […]

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