Review: Seven Deadlies by Gigi Levangie

Gigi Levangie, best known for her novel The Starter Wife, has gone way off the chick lit reservation with her latest novel. Here’s my take on her upcoming Seven Deadlies.

seven deadlies Seven Deadlies

by Gigi Levangie

Blue Rider Press, ISBN-10 0399166734, $25.95 hardcover, October 2013

New York Times–bestselling author Gigi Levangie returns with Seven Deadlies, a witty and wildly different novel set amid the sinful reaches of Beverly Hills, narrated by a captivating, gimlet-eyed Mexican-American heroine.
High schooler Perry (our heroine) has enough dirt on the families she meets in her babysitting/tutoring business to write an expose instead of a college admissions essay, so she does–times seven. In each increasingly riotous essay, Perry gives a matter-of-fact account of a child who embodied one of the seven deadly sins and how she coped with–or escaped from–each of them.
Sound preachy? It isn’t. If you loved watching the spoiled kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the book, not the horrible movie with Johnny Depp) get their comeuppance, you will split your sides laughing at the chapter on Lust, which involves a wealthy, petulant girl obsessed with the latest boy band. If the movie Se7en is more your speed, you’re going to cringe with a sort of icked-out satisfaction when you realize what the kid in the Gluttony essay had as his last meal. A lampoon, a meditation, a warning… Call it what you will, Seven Deadlies is delicious, schadenfreude-laden fun. 
BUT. If I may issue a warning of my own, close the book after the final essay. Stop reading. You see, if you are Greedy and Lust for the epilogue, if you are a Glutton for just a wee more of Levangie’s Envy-worthy talent, are too Slothful to put the book down, or if your Pride won’t let you close the book without finishing every last page, I fear you are destined to commit the sin of Wrath. Quite simply, the epilogue changes the entire book, and not in the same good, gotcha way as, say, Life of Pi. For me, the epilogue altered the experience for no clear reason, a bewildering sleight-of-hand that cast a shadow of disappointment over what was otherwise a wonderful reading experience. So maybe, just maybe, you should be strong, even virtuous, and walk away before you, too, lose the fun of this otherwise snarkily delightful story collection.