Olivia Grace Clarisse Harrison has always known she was different. Brought up by her aunt’s family in New Jersey, book-and-music-loving Olivia feels out of place in their life of high fashion and fancy cars. But she never could have imagined how out of place she really was until Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, pops into her school and announces that Olivia is her long-lost sister. Olivia is a princess. A dream come true, right? But princesses have problems too.
Title: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess
Author: Meg Cabot
Publication date: May 19, 2015
This review may contain spoilers for the Princess Diaries series.
Meg Cabot is best known for her YA books, particularly her Princess Diaries series. I read some of that series, along with some of her other YA books, but I’ve always preferred her middle grade Allie Finkle series.
I think I only read the first two or maybe three Princess Diaries books, so I’m not really up to speed on what’s going on in Genovia these days. It turns out that Mia aged well past her high school days and is engaged to Michael (like you didn’t see that coming in the very first book) and has just found out that she has a surprise half-sister named Olivia.
It’s a surprise to Olivia, too. Suddenly things make so much more sense: the reason she’s never met her father despite exchanging letters with him and the reason she doesn’t quite fit in with her aunt and uncle’s family. (She lives with them because her mother is dead.)
Olivia’s homelife isn’t that great, and she’s not having such a good time in middle school either. When she discovers that she’s an actual princess, she’s all for moving to Genovia and leaving New Jersey far behind. The only person she really cares about leaving is her best friend Nishi, but Nishi’s invited to visit Olivia so it’s all good. I hope that happens in the next book. I’d love to see the two of them exploring Genovia and the palace together. I was a little surprised that their separation wasn’t more upsetting for both of them, but Olivia’s family was moving anyway, so maybe they had gotten used to the idea. (It seems doubtful, but…)
I also have difficulty accepting that Olivia’s father let her aunt raise her after her mother’s death, sending only letters (and child support). I’m not going to be nominating him for Father of the Year, that’s for sure. There’s more to being a parent than financial support, but Olivia is very easygoing and it doesn’t really bother her, despite not being treated well by the family. Yes, there are reasons, but again, but…
Getting past all of that, I really enjoyed the book and getting to know Olivia. Olivia is very different from what I remember of Mia in the early Princess Diaries books, and I like Olivia more. From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is very much Olivia’s book. Mia isn’t in it as much as I thought she would be, which is fine with me given that I haven’t kept up with the series. It does make me more interested in going back and catching up with The Princess Diaries, and I might just do that if I can find the time to squeeze them in. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book about the middle school princess.