The Daughters/The Daughters Break the Rules/The Daughters Take the Stage
by Joanna Philbin
Synopsis (from publisher): The only daughter of supermodel Katia Summers, witty and thoughtful Lizzie Summers likes to stick to the sidelines.
The sole heir to Metronome Media and the daughter of billionaire Karl Jurgensen, outspoken Carina Jurgensen would rather climb mountains than social ladders.
Daughter of chart-topping pop icon Holla Jones, stylish and sensitive Hudson Jones is on the brink of her own music breakthrough.
By the time freshman year begins, unconventional-looking Lizzie Summers has come to expect fawning photographers and adoring fans to surround her gorgeous supermodel mother. But when Lizzie is approached by a fashion photographer who believes she’s “the new face of beauty,” Lizzie surprises herself and her family by becoming the newest Summers woman to capture the media spotlight.
In this debut young adult series tailored for younger teens, author Joanna Philbin explores what it’s really like to grow up in the thick of the celebrity world. As Lizzie and her two best friends (and fellow daughters-of-celebrities) juggle normal high school events with glamorous family functions, they discover the pitfalls of fame and the importance of friendship.
I wasn’t going to review each of these separately, but I wanted to have a word about the trilogy as a whole. Written by Regis Philbin’s daughter, the series is about a trio of best friends, all daughters of major celebrities, all living a wealthy and extremely privileged life in New York City. They are most definitely a label-dropping, wish-fulfillment, Gossip Girl-influenced set of books.
They’re also oddly touching with a good deal of heart. Rich girls in Manhattan books are one of my guilty pleasures (see also: rich girls in London or Paris) so I picked up the first book, The Daughters, looking for something totally fluffy to read on the beach that afternoon. I got what I was looking for, but also I was charmed by the story of Lizzie, supported by her two best friends, trying to find herself outside of the shadow of her supermodel mother. I requested the other two books from the library and found the same charming touch in each.
The plot is formulaic as each of the girls go through their own identity crisis and coming of age, but each book is elevated by the themes of loyalty and friendship between the girls. The books are sweetly moral as the girls learn important lessons about staying true to themselves, living their own lives, and being faithful to friends even in the face of new relationships. The girls themselves are high school freshman, and their adventures are fairly tame especially by the scale of the CW or Gossip Girl. But I don’t think that the morals are too obvious, and the sweet nature of the books and younger age of the protagonists would definitely appeal to a middle grade reader struggling with the challenges of starting to grow up.
ETA: I just saw that another Daughters book is coming out in November so I guess it's not a trilogy! The new book seems to introduce a fourth girl to the current trio so I'll be sure to pick that one up and see how it goes.