by C. Lee McKenzie

WestSide Books, $16.95, 348 pages

These ominous words begin C. Lee McKenzie’s The Princess of Las Pulgas: “Carlie Edmund has it all: a house on the California coastline, a tight-knit family, and a date to Channing’s spring fling”. Everything changes when her father dies.

Carlie has to deal with guilt over hating her father for dying. Additionally, with the medical bills, her mother can no longer afford to send Carlie and her younger brother, Keith, to their private school, or keep their home. They move to Las Pulgas, the rough side of town. Not only do Carlie’s Channing friends abandon her, she is nicknamed “Princess” by her classmates at the dangerous Las Pulgas High, who see her as self-absorbed. Carlie must learn to heal from her father’s death and learn to forgive herself for her anger.

The Princess of Las Pulgas touches on many issues adolescents are grappling with, such as racism, poverty, homosexuality, violence, dating, and death. McKenzie explores these issues in an age-appropriate manner, but does not aptly address certain sensitive topics she brings up, such as body-image.

Reviewed by Emily Davis