When Samantha's uncle gets her an internship at a film development company, she appreciates the gesture, but it's not her dream job. She would rather curl up with a good book than hobnob with film stars. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, she accepts the job and flies across the country to spend the summer with an uncle and cousin she barely knows.
The book explores the relationships that develop that summer between Sam and those around her: Kate, her sophisticated and seemingly self-assured cousin; Kate's two best friends, Tatiana the television actress and Dylan the hypochondriac; and two boys at Sam's workplace, Matt Sullivan, who is slightly older and possibly interested in her, and Ross, who is slightly nerdy and hilariously blunt.
Roter has created characters that are realistic and relatable, rather than snotty and stereotypical. The main character is a sweet girl who has good intentions. Readers can sympathize with her sense of bewilderment when faced with a new job and new surroundings.
Though she is wealthy, Kate is not a material girl. The sassy older cousin has layers which are peeled and revealed as the story goes on. Though Kate is more world-weary and mature than Cher from Clueless, the two would definitely be friends.
Thankfully, Roter eschewed the obvious (and overdone) Pygmalion path. Kate never attempts to change Sam; rather, it is the unexpected friendship between the cousins that spurs changes in each of them -- changes for the better. Her leading ladies grow to accept one another.
Unlike some other books shelved in young adult fiction, the romance in this book is clean enough to appease parents and teachers. No eyebrows will be raised by this book. It will inspire gentle, knowing laughter instead.
In her debut novel, Jordan Roter has created a story that is, like her main characters, is fun and cute, sweet yet sophisticated. A 30-year-old reader will enjoy this book just as much as a 16-year-old will, and mothers and daughters can share this story. In other words, fans of Gilmore Girls need to pick up this book.
Girl in Development is not only likable, it is enjoyable. It is even more refreshing than the complicated coffee drinks Sam and Kate order, and just as sweet.
Give this review a positive vote!
Bonus: My favorite piece of dialogue from the novel:
"What do you do if someone isn't there to catch you?"
"I fall," she said. "Don't worry, Ross. I always get back up."
- Ross and Sam, Page 225