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Doreen Gray isn't looking for social stardom. Instead, she arrives at her plush prep school seeking nothing more than a refuge from bullies. So when her cousin, Biz, photoshops Doreen's profile pic into clear-skinned and long-limbed perfection, Doreen renounces the digital makeover and retreats to her dorm room, mourning every pimple, fat roll and stray hair separating her from the Victoria's Secret Angel in the photograph.
By the next morning, however, Doreen has morphed into her profile picture: her skin has cleared, her waist has narrowed and her riot of black frizz has calmed into soft curls. Meanwhile, the girl in the photo has transformed into Doreen as she was two days before, acne scars and all.
But as Doreen glories in her newfound beauty, her backwoods innocence decays into the thoughtless hedonism of the rich, young and beautiful --- and the pubescent disaster in the photograph decays right along with it.

“Breezy enough for the beach, yet meaty... Manaster's debut blends big moral questions and sumptuous Armani dresses into 333 pages of delight.”

Although Manaster reenacts THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY in a plush new England prep school, DOREEN does more than fast-forward the iconic tale of lost innocence to the modern day. Instead, this update explores the psyches of Biz and queen bee Heidi Whelan, Doreen's instructor in the dark (social) arts. Whereas the classic hones in on Dorian's moral decay, Manaster shifts DOREEN's focus between Doreen, Biz and Heidi. From Biz's resentment of her snooty pedigree and her adorable alarming adulation of her cousin to Heidi's secret, humble origins as a "garbage man's daughter,” DOREEN embraces the humanity of even its most angelic --- and sinful --- characters.
Although glimpses of the classic's lush style pervade Manaster's prose, DOREEN streamlines THE PICTURE's sometimes-meandering imagery. That being said, this modern twist loses none of its predecessor's wit, insight or cynicism. Biz scorns her "mumzy" as a "superhero for the unbusy and overindulged" who "seemed to have had children out of a sense of obligation to her bloodline;” Heidi instructs Doreen in the purchase of some "tastefully lurid underwear.”
Doreen's free fall from innocence skims over some plot points along the way --- readers receive precious few glimpses into Doreen and true love Simon Vale's romance before its ultimate demise. And although Manaster probes the secrets of not just Doreen, but also Biz and Heidi, meek Biz's coming-of-age can get lost amid Heidi's double-life and Doreen's garish debauchery. But I still loved every minute I spent reading DOREEN. Breezy enough for the beach, yet meaty enough for your three-AM musings on the meaning of life, Manaster's debut blends big moral questions and sumptuous Armani dresses into 333 pages of delight.

Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board Member on June 17, 2016

by Ilana Manaster