Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Flappers: Vixen

The Flappers: Vixen

Jillian Larkin
Fiction  Series
For ages 16 and up
Random House, 2011   ISBN: 978-0385740357

As a member of high society in Chicago, Gloria has a charmed life. She is beautiful, smart, a gifted singer, and she is engaged to Sebastian Grey, a very handsome and popular young man. She should be happy with her lot, but she isn’t. She longs for some adventure, she wants to do something forbidden that she knows her family, her fiancé and society in general would not approve of. Which is why she ends up at a speakeasy called the Green Mill with her friend Marcus. Gloria pretends to be a flapper, drinking cocktails, listening to the music, and flirting with Jerome Johnson, the African-American musician who performs at the club. She is both thrilled and scared of the atmosphere at the Green Mill, knowing full well how unwise it is to hang out in an illegal establishment that is favored by gangsters.

Gloria’s cousin Clara is an altogether different situation. Her parents have sent her to  Chicago so that she can help her cousin Gloria with her wedding preparations. Not so long ago, Clara was a flapper, wild and uncontrolled in New York City where she got arrested. She also got involved with a man who turned out to be a complete cad. Now she has to play the part of the dutiful poor relative, and she makes a point of never mentioning her seamy past. In fact Gloria and her friends have no idea that Clara was once a flapper who had a reputation for heavy drinking and partying.

Gloria’s best friend Lorraine tries very hard not to envy Gloria. Like Gloria, Lorraine is rich, but she is incredibly unhappy. Lorraine is in love with Gloria’s friend Marcus, and it irks her to no end that Marcus does not seem to notice Lorraine’s not inconsiderable charms. Perhaps once Gloria is safely married off to Sebastian, Lorraine will have a chance with Marcus at long last.

Having had a taste of the flapper lifestyle, Gloria is drawn to it, sneaking out of her home to go back to the Green Mill, and to Jerome. She manages to persuade the owners of the speakeasy to let her audition for a singing job, and though her voice is not strong enough yet, they think she has promise and she is given the job. Gloria starts living a double life, knowing all too well what could happen to her if anyone should find out what she is doing. Even though she knows her behavior is unacceptable for a girl in her position, she cannot help herself, and soon she, Clara, Lorraine, Marcus, Jerome and Sebastian are on a collision course with disaster.

Though this story is about life in Chicago in the early 1920’s, the problems faced by the young characters are not that different from those that teens face in today’s world. Gloria and her friends are eager to grow up and to spread their wings, and they are willing to take dreadful risks so that they can do something different. As so often happens in real life, they get burned, and have to deal with the consequences of their actions. They discover, all too late, that playing a part and living it are two very different things, and that it is dangerous to enter a world that you know nothing about.

This is the first title in what promises to be a fascinating and thrilling new series.