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It Had to Be You: The Gossip Girl Prequel

Review

It Had to Be You: The Gossip Girl Prequel

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are at least
familiar with the Gossip Girl series. If you were born
yesterday, the first thing someone did was hand you a paperback
with a glossy snapshot and a colored band going across the bottom,
printed with a title and that familiar dropping P. You know Blair
Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen, the queens of the Upper East
Side. You know how much they both love the same boy, the oh-so-cute
and perpetually stoned Nate Archibald. You’re also familiar
with the rest of the cast --- the wannabes, the classmates, the
rebels. We teen girls all know the world these wealthy kids live
in, even if most of us will never enter it ourselves.


After watching most of the gang graduate and the rest of the
important characters go off to boarding school or other adventures,
we take a step back and rewind two years. IT HAD TO BE YOU
introduces us to 15-year-old Blair and Serena, who are just
learning how to grab hold of the world and take charge of it.


The story begins during the winter and shows us a more vulnerable
Blair Waldorf, who is inseparable from her best friends, Serena van
der Woodsen and Nate Archibald. Yes, you read that right. No Archie
comics-esque love triangle yet --- these kids are just a happy,
sophomoric threesome. That is, until Blair and Serena both
privately realize they are in love with Nate. Enter conflict.


Other favorite characters appear in this prequel as well.
Unanswered questions from the entire Gossip Girl series
become answered. We see Vanessa Abrams, the aspiring avant-garde
filmmaker, leave her long jet-black hair behind and become the bald
girl we know so well. Twelve-year-old Jenny Humphrey, as obsessed
with Serena as always, starts out in the story flat-chested and
begins taking herbal supplements. Dan Humphrey is a budding poet
and, with the help of his developing little sister, begins writing
anonymous poems that Jenny leaves in Serena’s locker.
Blair’s father walks out on the family, only to return with
his new life partner. Serena fights with her parents about boarding
school. And Chuck Bass --- well, he’s the same old playboy at
15 as he is at 17 in the original series.


When Serena and Nate accidentally kiss one night while in the same
bed as Blair, things begin to get complicated for the threesome.
How will they tell their best friend that their relationship has
been taken to the next level? Serena begins to feel more and more
guilty when Blair confesses to Serena how in love with Nate she is.
Her best friend’s life is falling apart. How can Serena steal
a guy from her, too?


But maybe Serena doesn’t need a guy. Dan would gladly take
Nate’s place in her life. If only poor Vanessa, who is
quickly falling for him, knew that. After she and Dan share an
awkward first kiss in his apartment, she’s smitten, but she
doesn’t realize that the poems of his she keeps reading are
meant for Serena.


I liked Gossip Girl before it got too popular. The first
book was unapologetically wicked, and I loved von Ziegesar for it.
Before the series became such a hit, it relied less on shoving in
countless references to designers and cosmetics companies and more
on the idea of the wealth the teenagers in the stories
had. It was about lifestyle, not the long name of the nail polish
Blair wore on her fingers.


IT HAD TO BE YOU is a refreshing addition to the series. Working as
a companion to the rest of the books, it adds depth to the
characters. We see a childish, vulnerable Blair. We reach further
into Nate’s mind before it becomes clouded with marijuana. We
watch Vanessa and Dan struggle to understand themselves and the art
that will define them in the series. Only Serena remains the same
sad, beautiful girl who can’t seem to catch a break because
she has so many.


Any Gossip Girl fan who so much as looks at the spine of
the book will want to pick it up to learn more about the delicious
characters Cecily von Ziegesar created. Surprisingly, though, it
may be a good read even for those who have avoided the series in
the past.


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Reviewed by Hannah Gomez on October 18, 2011

It Had to Be You: The Gossip Girl Prequel
by Cecily von Ziegesar

  • Publication Date: October 2, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • ISBN-10: 031601768X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316017688