Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.
I’m Sophie Price...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Where to Find Vain:
Where to Find Fisher Amelie:
1). Sophie. At the beginning of this novel Sophie was repugnant, egotistical, narcissistic, trampy, and empty. We learn fairly quickly that all of these horrible traits seem to be in direct relation to her being neglected and feeling unloved at home. Her parents seem to treasure her only for her looks and her manners and how those two things further their reputations. When Sophie makes a foolish choice that will negatively impact their reputation, they decide to
punish teach her a lesson by having her sentenced to Africa to help in an orphanage. Within days of her sentencing we see a Sophie that is completely transformed. This transformation occurs almost the instant she lands in Africa. She learns how to adapt and cope and allows the emptiness she once felt to be replaced with respect for the children and adults she works with. Along the way Sophie learns to value people over material things with the help of the orphans, Charles and Karina, and Ian. She also learns what it feels like to love and feel loved.
2) Ian. Ian is assigned the task of educating Sophie on all things at the orphanage. He finds her beautiful but materialistic and shallow. He barely tolerates her presence when she first arrives but when he sees that she is making an effort to change he also makes an effort to be less hostile and more forgiving of her shortcomings. Later, when he takes her on a quick trip home, we learn that he has some experience with Sophie's materialistic world.
3) The African orphanage. In many ways it felt like the orphans and the surrounding area acted as another character, collectively. The children provided insights, the Kony army provided strife and conflict, and the African landscape provided beauty. I enjoyed all of the African aspects of the story and felt that they made an excellent backdrop for Sophie's transformation as there was so much for her to learn while she was there.
4) The story. The Sophie we meet at the beginning and the one we have at the end couldn't be more different. I appreciated the underlying concept that no one is so far gone that they cannot change--that 2nd chances can occur and if one is smart enough to take advantage of that opportunity then good things can happen.
My wish for this story would be that the ending would be more fleshed out. It happens so fast..I wanted to know more about her return to the orphanage and 'her' children, about how things go down with Ian and his parents, her parents, and Simon. The epilogue alludes to these things but I wanted more because, as usual, I'm greedy.
I first started Vain in January soon after it's release, and I am sorry to now say that I quit at about 15%. I planned to go back to it later, but I had such strong feelings of dislike for Sophie Price in every way that I just had no desire to finish it then. Having that feeling, Shelley and I knew it would be perfect for the two of us to read together. See, we are huge fans of anything that can illicit such strong feelings about any subject so we were all over it.
1) Pre-Africa Sophie. I really hated her. She used everyone around her, and was the worst kind of mean girl. She slept with and made plays for her friends boyfriends just simply because she could. She was a druggy, even after a friend of hers dies from using and this is what lands her in a huge amount of trouble. Because her father has more money than anyone would know what to do with she gets through strike 1 with a pat on the wrist. This is strike 2, and her father's attorney Pembrook arranges for her to go to the orphanage in Uganda for a 6 month sentence. Post-Africa Sophie is genuinely what made me give this story 5 stars, in addition to the writing. I really enjoyed both, but PA she had completed a huge transformation. She got a huge dose of reality and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey to get there.
2) Ian. Dingane. This 20 year old guy is a permanent fixture at the orphanage and calls himself "a jack of all trades." There isn't a lot he doesn't do for the orphanage and he seems like such a giving person to dedicate his life to these children. He dislikes Sophie so much from the get go because he thinks he has her figured out. She's an heiress who hasn't lifted a finger for anything in her entire life. Little do we know Ian has a lot of secrets himself, and while this has the potential to become painfully melodramatic, I liked how straightforward this part of the story was. He doesn't want to get to know Sophie at all, but gets the front row seat of her growth anyways. I loved Ian.
3) The orphanage. Shelley, the orphanage. The injustices that these children face, and their love for life even when they literally have nothing and still more is taken from them broke my heart. I know this doesn't just happen in Uganda, or even in Africa, but this part of the story was amazing. The setting pushed a pretty great story to amazing in exactly what you said...the land, the beauty, the children singing their songs the morning after they're attacked...*tear*. People like Karina and Charles and those who helped them inspire me, so kudos to Fisher Amelie for showing the genuine truth, harshness, and goodness of this sort of life.
4) The story. Was amazing. I appreciated all of the life lessons that were covered, but it wasn't pretentious or slow or putting a political agenda in my face to be anything but a beautiful story. Sophie in the beginning, that part really was well done, because it showed exactly how far she had to travel to find her way back to being a good person.
I do hope that the questions we are left with in Vain are addressed later in the series. I'm not sure if another story is about Ian and Sophie (yay, if so) or a companion about someone else and some other personal flaw (The Seven Deadly makes me think that...vanity, etc...that too may be an assumption) so I'd like to know where the kiddos end up that we're close to in Vain. Overall, I loved this story by how different I felt about it, maybe because of it being a different time in life (almost 6 months in between) the second time around and I am happy I came back to it and it proved me wrong!