ARC Review: Red by Alison Cherry

Pub. Date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover
320 pages

When I first read the synopsis for Red, I thought the idea was different and interesting, but also somewhat insane. I mean a town where your social standing is based on your hair color - not your typical book setting. Red is definitely quirky, funny and unique, but it is also smart, has a lot of heart and a good amount of seriousness thrown into the mix as well.

Felicity St. John has everything she could possibly want - a great group of friends, a coveted leadership role at school, and the chance to win a big pageant /scholarship. But Felicity is one of only three people who know she doesn’t rightfully deserve these things. If her school and her town knew that she was a Strawbie – a strawberry blonde – and not a real redhead, every opportunity she has had would be taken away. In Scarletville, you’re only as important as your (natural) shade of red. When Felicity's bi-weekly dye secret is threatened, there’s no end to what she’ll do to protect herself. 

My biggest fear was that the novel would just be silly without any real depth. I recognize the level of seriousness between being discriminated because of your hair color, compared to your skin color or size is drastically different, but the ways in which the town discriminate and treat non-redheads added a validity and level of seriousness that I wasn’t expecting. Red presents intolerance in such a unique way.
It really shows how all encompassing and consuming a perspective can be, and how you can take on a worldview, just because of the environment you grew up in. Felicity doesn’t have the perspective to know that her community’s focus on shades of red is not as significant in the rest of world, so you don't fault her for going to the ends she does to keep her secret. I was really surprised by how seamlessly the novel combined a serious topic with flat-out humor. Adding funny through character names, town holidays, and dialogue showed that while the story is making a point, it’s not taking itself too seriously in the process.

The best part of the novel (aside from the humor) was the original characters. From the best friend in a pageant who has seriously short hair and hates wearing dresses, to the teacher who is the first one to point out that being a Strawbie in the normal world makes you a redhead, to Felicity’s younger twin brothers who are unintentionally oblivious and therefore hilarious, all of the characters and relationships seem completely normal, yet unique and refreshing at the same time. Felicity is really the girl next door you have no problem relating to, and her story is just as much about figuring out who she is no matter her hair color, as it is about rectifying the discrimination going on in her town.

I really liked this book and I can’t wait to see what Cherry comes up with next!

Rating 10/10

** I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.