von Ziegesar, Cecily
von Ziegesar, Cecily
Born 1970, in New York, NY; married; children: Agnes. Education: Attended Colby College and the University of Arizona.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
"GOSSIP GIRLS" SERIES
Gossip Girl, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
You Know You Love Me, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
All I Want Is Everything, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
Because I'm Worth It, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
Gossip Girl has been adapted to audiotape.
Cecily von Ziegesar is the author of the Gossip Girl books, a series about a group of rich Manhattan teenagers and their adventures with sex, drugs, and alcohol. The books have been criticized as nothing more than the written equivalent of a soap opera, but fans believe von Ziegesar speaks honestly about contemporary teen life. As a critic for Publishers Weekly described the series, "though anyone hoping for character depth or emotional truth should look elsewhere, readers who have always wished Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz would write about teenagers are in for a superficial, nasty, guilty pleasure."
Von Ziegesar herself comes from a wealthy background and swears the events found in her novels are based on real life. She told Rachel Cooke in theObserver: "I was just describing a world that I knew. At high school, one of my best friends would fly Concorde to Paris to get fitted by Yves Saint Laurent." Amelia Hill in the Observer explained what the series' characters are all about: "Von Ziegesar's hard-drinking, bulimic and love-starved teenagers smoke cannabis in Central Park, vomit on monogrammed scarves after a night drinking in a plush hotel, and plot complex sexual escapades at their parents' penthouses." "The whole idea came out of my experience of growing up in New York," von Ziegesar told Lauren Mechling in the Daily Telegraph. Gillian Engberg in Booklist found the Gossip Girl books to be a "campy, scandal-hungry glimpse into the lives of privileged teens in Manhattan's Upper East Side." Hill summed up: "It is a world where overprivileged youngsters take drugs, have sex—often with each others' boyfriends—get raped and drink alcohol until they pass out."
The circle of Gossip Girl friends attend the Spenford School, an exclusive New York private academy. They live on the Upper East Side and have all the money they can spend. While they spend their days drinking, taking drugs, and exploring their sexuality, their parents are too busy with their own lives to pay any attention to their children's activities. Gossip Girl is the anonymous webmistress of the Web site Gossipgirl.net, a place where the scandalous goings-on of these teenagers are wryly chronicled. At the center of the group are Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, rivals for the attention and affection of the boys in their circle, and for popularity at school.
In the first book of the series, Gossip Girl, Serena and Blair are old friends from childhood who have now grown up and find themselves rivals. Serena has been away at boarding school. When she is booted out and returns home, she finds that her friendship with Blair is in trouble. Blair has become the center of their circle of friends, a position Serena once held, and she has no intention of giving it up. Meanwhile, Blair's boyfriend Nate is attracted to Serena, and eventually he sleeps with her. "Von Ziegesar's approach is fresh, although mean and petty comments dominate these teens' world," Gail Richmond wrote in the School Library Journal. "Deliciously catty and immediately engrossing," according to a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, Gossip Girl is a novel that "girls should find . . . spicy, entertaining, and their own trashy fun."
You Know You Love Me finds Blair's rich mother marrying her chunky, tacky, high-society boyfriend, Cyrus Rose, after a two-month courtship, and asking Blair and Serena to be her bridesmaids. Meanwhile, Blair's boyfriend Nate is avoiding her to secretly see Jenny, something that disturbs Blair so much that she is too nervous to get through her college interview. And Serena's school film project wins her a trip to the Cannes film festival. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "a highly enjoyable speedboat of a read, zipping along at lightning speed." School Library Journal's Nicole M. Marcuccilli dubbed the book "a great read for those who like romance and drama related in a sassy manner."
Von Ziegesar continues the Gossip Girl series with All I Want Is Everything, in which Blair is trying to find a new boyfriend to replace the cheating Nate, while her mother and new stepfather are planning to have a child of their own. Serena has run off to the Caribbean with her rock star boyfriend; but when she gets bored with the topless sunbathing, as well as the boyfriend, Serena returns home in search of more interesting romantic partners. Everything winds up at a New Year's Eve party. "Everyone's lives seem to be getting more complicated," according to Sally M. Tibbetts in Kliatt, "but don't count on these ladies becoming any deeper or more sensitive."
If you enjoy the works of Cecily Von Ziegesar
If you enjoy the works of Cecily Von Ziegesar, you might want to check out the following books:
Meg Cabot, All-American Girl, 2002.
Zoey Dean, The A-List, 2003.
Cathy Hopkins, Mates, Dates, and Designer Divas, 2003.
The fourth installment of the series, Because I'm Worth It, revolves around Fashion Week, an event Blair and Serena are anxiously awaiting. The two girls are serving as counselors for freshmen, Nate has been arrested on marijuana charges, and everyone is learning whether they have been accepted at the Ivy League college of their choice. Hilary Williamson of the Book Loons Web Site found that BecauseI'm Worth It "goes down as easily as one of the many glasses of bubbly imbibed inside it." "This quick tale is great for mindless vacation reading," Amy Coffin stated in the BookHaven.net Web Site. "Somehow it works—as a 90210-esqe soap opera that's pure escapism," Amy Allesio concluded in a review posted at the TeenReads Web Site.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Gossip Girl, p. 1709.
Bookseller, August 16, 2002, "Warning over Teen Launch," p. 34.
Daily Telegraph, October 17, 2002, Lauren Mechling, "A Nice Girl's Guide to Misbehaving."
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, April, 2003, Pamela Osback, review of Gossip Girl, p. 608.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Gossip Girl, p. 580; August 15, 2002, review of You Know You Love Me, p. 1238.
Kliatt, November, 2002, Sally M. Tibbetts, review of You Know You Love Me, p. 21; July, 2003, review of All I Want Is Everything, p. 27.
Observer, August 25, 2002, Amelia Hill, "Sex and Drugs Tales to Tempt Teen Readers;" February 23, 2003, Rachel Cooke, "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum."
Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2002, review of Gossip Girl, p. 91; July 22, 2002, review of You Know You Love Me, p. 181; May 12, 2003, review of All I Want Is Everything, p. 69; November 10, 2003, review of Gossip Girl (audiobook), p. 23; November 17, 2003, review of Because I'm Worth It, p. 67.
School Library Journal, June, 2002, Gail Richmond, review of Gossip Girl, p. 148; October, 2002, Nicole M. Marcuccilli, review of You Know You Love Me, p. 174; August, 2003, Elaine Baran Black, review of All I Want Is Everything, p. 168.
Teen People, May 1, 2002, Jennifer Calonita Smith, review of Gossip Girl, p. 92.
YM, July, 2002, Heather Klein, review of Gossip Girl, p. 32.
BookHaven.net Web Site,http://www.bookhaven.net/ (December 21, 2003), Amy Coffin, review of Gossip Girl.
Book Loons Web Site,http://www.bookloons.com/ (December 20, 2003), Hilary Williamson, review of Because I'm Worth It.
Bridge Magazine Web Site,http://www.bridgemagazine.org/ (January, 2003), Jake Davis, review of Gossip Girl.
Gossip Girl Web Site,http://www.gossipgirl.net/ (December 20, 2003).
Teen Reads Web Site,http://www.teenreads.com/ (December 21, 2003), Carlie Kraft, reviews of Gossip Girl, You Know You Love Me, and All I Want Is Everything, and Amy Alessio, review of Because I'm Worth It.*