Sheldon, Dyan. My Perfect Life. Candlewick, 2005. ISBN 978-0763628284 208 pp. $
In this sequel to Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Candlewick, 1999), Sheldon skillfully weaves in details from the first book to make this a stand-alone title without boring returning fans while refreshing their memories. The irrepressible Lola Cep is still competing with the class alpha female Carla Santini. When Carla decides to run for school president, Lola immediately becomes interested in politics, but instead of nominating herself, shoves her quiet pal Ella into the spotlight.
Ella is the narrator and protagonist of this story. The shift in voice shows Sheldon’s writing talent; the two friends are very different. Ella lacks the vivacious drama of Lola, but makes up for it with wit and slight sarcasm. Her voice is subdued in spite of the drama of her real life –a father who is never around, and a mother who drinks too much. When the buildup of issues couples with the stress of running for office, the shrinking violet predictably yet satisfyingly blossoms and faces her family issues as well as her own social issues.
The major flaw of the novel is that the characters and plot read more like middle school than high school; the race for a school presidency, complete with debates, is more plot device than reality. The language is squeakily clean and the characters are not terribly complex, and the outcome is predictable.
Fans of the first book will want more Lola stories, this may satisfy less demanding readers.