Book Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
By: Sarah Strohmeyer
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Page Count: 320
Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

I adored Sarah Strohmeyer's YA debut, Smart Girls Get What They Want, so I was eager to get my hands on this one. I was expecting an interesting premise, strong female characters, a healthy dash of romance, and some wit. Strohmeyer delivered! If you're looking for a sweet, clean summer romance - this is the book for you.

Zoe is still reeling from the death of her mother, but she decides to pack away her grief for a summer working as an intern at fairy tale inspired theme park. Her best friend and cousin, Jess, will be along for the summer and the two girls plan to have fun in the sun. It also doesn't hurt that $25,000 is on the line to the intern who does the best work over the summer and exhibits the best "WOW" characteristics. This felt almost like a summer camp novel and my mind immediately went to others that I have read about camps or summer internships. In true Strohmeyer style, this novel isn't a repeat of the same plots that I have read before AND I dare you to not fall in love with these characters. Zoe, in particular, is one who I would have loved the befriend at that age. I also have to admit, I wish that I could have had an experience like Zoe's when I was a teenager. It seemed like such a fun way to spend a summer.

Zoe isn't perfect - she has her flaws like everyone else - but she has a good heart. She is intensely loyal, intelligent, and always gives 110%. In fact, she is a great inspirational character, and not just for adults. In her shoes, I don't know that I could have worked with the Queen and tried to help people behind the scenes. Not once did she worry about herself. She truly wanted everyone else to be treated fairly and get the rewards. It's not often that you see such a selfless character in YA fiction. It was refreshing and endearing. Strohmeyer does a fantastic job of writing strong female voices and Zoe is no exception.

Furthermore, I loved the romance in this one. My lips are sealed, but I promise it's sweet and light. It's that perfect dose of cotton candy perfection that I crave when the days start getting warmer. It conjures up the memories of summer love and stolen kisses. 

The setting makes this novel. I loved the theme park/summer camp/boarding school vibe. It's always interesting to me to observe characters in a setting other than their home. I find that they interact in different ways than I would expect. The lack of parental authority also causes some characters to change in drastic ways and show their true colors. The structure of the park was also interesting and allowed for a lot of behind the scenes drama. It makes me wonder how much of that type of behavior goes on behind the scenes in real life. I don't think I'll be able to look at Cinderella, Prince Charming, or any of the other characters in the same way after reading this book. My mind will be too caught up in what happens when they switch our of their costumes and don their true selves.

Zoe and her dreams were the perfect thing to put me in the mood for summer. She is definitely worthy of a spot on your TBR list. This was good, clean summer fun.

One Last Gripe: I rated this a 4.5 instead of 5 because it felt disloyal to the Smart Girls not to do so. I loved this novel, but it took me a few chapters to get into it. Smart Girls, on the other hand, hooked me from the first chapter.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The plot - it felt familiar and unique all at once

First Sentence: The day after we finished our junior year at Bridgewater-Raritan High, Jess and I hopped into her dad's 1998 Honda Bobmobile and hightailed it down the Garden State to Fairyland with the windows open and our hair flying, Springsteen blaring at full volume.

Favorite Character: Zoe

Least Favorite Character: One of the Prince Charmings who shall remain nameless

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?


  1. You mean there are more than one Prince Charmings? That's like, so wow. But I wonder why one of them is your least favorite character. I shall discover that when I read this book.
    GREAT review, Andrea
    Your reader,

    1. There are several Prince Charmings who work at the theme park. I wouldn't say they all actually deserve the title. I love this novel and I'm so excited to see you're planning on reading it.

  2. Awesome review! I am looking forward to reading this one and also Smart Girls, I have had this one on my kindle for such a long time.

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

    1. Thanks for checking out the review. You must read Smart Girls. It's one of my favorites. I love how Sarah writes really strong females who approach life with logic. I also love the sweet romances she creates.

  3. Great review! I've had a copy of Smart Girls Get What They Want for awhile now and clearly I need to get to it ASAP. I've been curious about this book because this is the first review I've seen and I lovelovelove YA contemporary. I definitely dig the summer-away-from-home setting. I had fun last summer reading Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, set at a historical reenactment camp and it sounds like I would enjoy this just as much. Thanks for sharing, Andrea!

    1. Smart Girls is one of my favorites. I would highly recommend it and Zoe's story. I did think about Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink a few times when I was reading this one. They have nothing in common beyond the summer internship plot-wise, but they both have that freeing summer feel with the sweet romance sprinkled in.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I hope you'll read this one. It's the perfect novel to usher in summer and warm weather.


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