A vanilla-cream-colored jacket. Lilac shimmer lipstick. Purses. Skirts. Taylor is growing obsessed with all of these things because she needs to keep up with her new friend, Kat. Taylor has other friends, Sophie and Sam, but they're not as cool as Kat, and they seem to be doing more and more things together without her. For Sam and Sophie shopping is fun, a way to occupy their time during a boring Saturday afternoon, but for Kat it's an obsession. Not long after she meets Kat, Taylor finds herself loaning Kat household money to buy clothes and spending way more than she should just to keep Kat as her friend. Kat's world, like much of the book, is superficial, and there's most definitely a lesson to be learned about what makes a real friend.
Though Judy Waite tries to infuse a serious tone and angst in the form of Taylor's dead sister and catatonic, incoherent mother, she leaves the reader confused as to why Taylor's life is so unusual, since Taylor's secret is not revealed until the end of the book. Everyone around Taylor comes off as flat and underdeveloped, except for her loving grandfather. The descriptions of clothes and makeup often go overboard, and not enough time is given to more important issues, such as Kat's obviously less-than-perfect home life. Like a Nordstrom's shoe sale that has nothing left in your size, SHOPAHOLIC is a book that makes a lot of promises but ultimately doesn't deliver.
Reviewed by Carlie Kraft on May 1, 2003