Expected publication: July 12th 2016 by Viking Children's
Format read: ARC via publisher
Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her as a debutante for the 2016 season in their hometown of Dallas, she’s furious. After Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family.
One perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.
The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.
This means that over the years, I've watched some truly random offerings like From Nada to Prada, all for the sake of relishing in the familiar structure of one of Austen's stories. Consequently, I've come to really appreciate the writers who get their adaptations right, such as the Dyers with The Season.
Megan McKnight is The Season's equivalent of Lizzie Bennet; she's bold, opinionated, and doesn't necessarily do what's expected of her. So when her mom signs her and her twin sister up for the debutante season, Megan is horrified.
But as she delves into party dresses, social hours and party planning, Megan begins to realize that the season isn't just about primping. In fact, there are some good life lessons, including learning how to stand up for yourself and to branch out from what you know...
Before I write anything else, I think it's worth pointing out that The Season isn't YA. It's actually NA - the character is nineteen going on twenty, and in college. Correspondingly, there are elements that you don't find in YA, including potential engagements, drug charges, and several post-coital scenes.
But that is also what's notable about The Season. By changing up the age of the characters, the Dyers have not only amped up the stakes for Megan and her family, but have also made it closer in line to the original text of Pride and Prejudice as well.
As the book progresses, the Dyers make it VERY clear that the Season isn't just a horse and pony show for the wealthiest young women in Texan society. Instead, it's also a way for certain families to carry on with long-established tradition, and also for these young women to also learn how to push themselves beyond what is normally expected of them, as they overcome individual prejudices.
Though Megan initially thinks that everything related to the season is mock-worthy, she quickly learns that she's actually been viewing everything with biased eyes. From realizing how surprisingly chic her stylist can be, to her burgeoning relationships with the suave Hank Waterhouse and the socially awkward Andrew Gage, Megan realizes that there are many truths she's learning from the process, which culminate in a short but important moment when she uses her debutante duties to address domestic violence.
While I do think the book probably could have been slightly longer; the expected romantic declaration between Andrew and Megan feels oddly curtailed, this book is still extremely enjoyable, all around.
The Dyers have created a fun, snarky look at the competitive world of Texas debutantes, while also incorporating elements of one of my favorite Austen novels. Megan is an imperfect and likable heroine, and readers will love her journey, as she learns to balance two very different worlds.
The Dyers remind readers that it IS possible to truly have it all even if you're not from the weathiest or glitziest family, as long as you stay true to yourself. And you can absolutely have it all with this delightful book. Highly recommend, full stop.