A darker, dirtier version of Gossip Girl, where filthy-rich Manhattan kids are up to more than you would think.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Drug & alcohol use
- This book is about highly-flawed and snotty teens!
- This portrayal of mega-rich elites may require some suspension of disbelief :)
Why I love it
Author, When Katie Met Cassidy
Blur the line between the supposed “high” culture of the elite and the “low” culture of the masses and I’m yours. So, when I learned that Anna K tackled the question, "what would Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina look like as a contemporary young adult novel?" I knew I had to find out. The result is a modern, refreshingly diverse story that’s as heartfelt and thought-provoking as it is high-drama fun. Think Tolstoy meets Gossip Girl with a half-Korean lead.
Seventeen-year-old Anna is from a wealthy Manhattan family. Her idyllic relationship is threatened when she meets handsome lothario Alexia “Count” Vronsky. This thread connects an abundant cast of characters, all struggling with their own matters of love, class, mental health, addiction—not to mention racism and sexism.
Just a fair warning—this book has a few graphic scenes containing drugs, sex, and a lot of swearing (this spoof of the lives of obscenely wealthy teenagers is over-the-top, to say the least!). If that’s not for you, pick a different book. That said, thanks to Lee’s cinematic writing style I was wholly invested in the fates of these misguided teenagers, each with their own unique voice and fully realized arc. Love, heartbreak, shame, guilt, regret—these are the great subjects of humanity. In this way, Anna K manages to be an indulgent joyride that’s also, well, downright Tolstoyesque.
Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna's brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.
As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.