Emily Carson is in the midst of a party when she finds out her parents have died in a plane crash. She is further shocked when a seat-back tray is discovered with a message written in lipstick from her mom to her: Emily, please forgive me.
Those four words keep Emily from grieving in peace, as the national media focus on her and the lipstick apology that she doesn’t know the meaning of. All summer she hides within herself and her childhood home before heading off to New York City to live with her glamorous aunt Jolie, a make-up artists famous for all the famous people she makes-up and for her skin care product line. Never married and childless, Jolie isn’t sure how to help her niece overcome her grief and settle into their new lives together.
Emily is enrolled at a prestigious New York City school, and at first all she can see are the differences between the students there and her friends back home in Pennsylvania where she grew up. As she slowly adjusts to her new world, she must learn to distinguish true friendship based on the person within, not the looks outside. And she grapples with the meaning of her mother’s message.
Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley starts off somewhat rocky, with characters that seem more like caricatures than real people. There’s a gay hairdresser, rich prep school girls, and self-centered high school jocks. In some ways, it reads like a made-for-TV movie, covering issues on the surface, but not very in-depth. However, as the book moves along, we get a closer look at Emily and her motivations, her insecurities and her quest. While I never felt as though I truly got into Emily’s brain and understood what she was going through, I do believe this book offers lots to talk about in a mother-daughter book club with girls in high school. It offers good discussions on forgiveness, friendship, family, love and grief.