Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Sometimes I dip into a YA book and synch with teen yearnings for a different better life--and realize I'm an adult, a fact I can easily forget in an imaginative treasure like The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky (Little Brown and Co.) I have collected vintage clothes for decades and given them on to owners they better suit, so this is a book for me. And for girls and moms who love adventure, the mysteries of time and timeless design. Louise is a skinny 7th grader with braces on her teeth, frizzy hair, and weird parents--a Brit mom who boils food in vinegar a "Stepford" lawyer dad. Her life in Connecticut is made okay by her best friend, Brook, with whom she carefully navigates the awful indignities of Middle School. These include the inept boy, who somehow can't figure out how to ask her to the dance. The last time, she scurried away, embarrassed, wishing he'd get some social skills. But she's more interested in shoping for the perfect dress and fantasizes about a fantastic one of a kind vintage dress by one of the old masters, like Luceil, whose dresses she studies and draws, along with her own creations. A discerning devotee of thriftshops, Louise is thrilled when she receives an intriguing invite to a vintage sale. She dreams of rare finds and gets her friend, Brook to come with her, though she's more a devotee of whatever's new at the mall. Louise at first is put off by the rummage sale atmosphere, lack of price tags, and the two witch-like women running it. They practically refuse to let her try on a pink gown with a long draped skirt, an empire waist detailled with shimmery gold thread and a tiny silver beads. I'm giving details because the dresses illustrated in this book by Sandra Suy, are like characters. As Louise tries on the pink dress in the dark dressingroom, she soon finds herself on the moving floor of a cruise ship. Outside waits Ann, her maid. Louise is in the year5 1912 on the White Star Line, inhabiting the body of a glamours teen actress, Miss Baxter. She loves the amazing gowns she gets to wear as Baxter, but not so much the claustrophobic life of a celebrity who is dressed, waited on, and escorted. But she meets the handsome Mr. Guggenheim and the real Luceil, the pivotal fashion designer, and enjoys the extraordinary luxury of the ocean liner, until she discovers it's the Titanic! Then her time-travelling takes on a nightmarish cast. Louise and Ann try to convince Captain Smtih to change his course and get branded as hysterics. Realizing she can't change history, Louise has a visitation by the vintage witches who explain she needs the dress to go home. After the ship hits the ice, Louise undergoes a crazy race against the rising water to find the dress in the ship's laundry. Ann decides to stay with a handsome officer and save people, so Louise uses the dress to return to the 21st century. She finds the life she has is one she can appreciate, where women can speak their minds and vote and she has a comfortable wardrobe of jeans. But her love and appreciate for the history carried in Vintage clothes intensifies. And while she's recovering from her ordeal, she sees another invitation to the time-travelling vintage store. This is the first in a series that combines history and magic with a knowledge of the grace and purpose of fashionable clothes--which may retain the souls of the wearer. The story of a teen becoming more comfortable with herself, is familiar, but the route to that end is unexpected and charming.