All told, the story is simple in its summation—a young girl’s birthday followed by her experiences at her first dance—but it would be a detriment to leave it at that. Olivia is a wonderful observer. She catches people both at their best and their worst—all pretense is stripped away, revealing the true nature of every character. This is an honest book full of awkwardness and vulnerability. Yet at same time, Olivia’s observations of both herself and others are often wonderfully amusing.
However, there is a sense of hidden danger given Olivia’s character—as her Uncle Oswald stated, there’s a tendency for wanting “what other people tell [her] to want.” She has that strong youthful desire to please everyone, even though deep down, she knows that that it might not always be possible. Ultimately for Olivia, her first party is a valuable learning experience. Yet rather than dashing away all of that youthful optimism, the book leaves the reader with a feeling of hope at the end—regardless of the near past and near future—everything may turn out all right. Overall, this is an excellent little book and one of my favorites.