In this tenth and final installment in the Princess Diaries series, it’s been awhile since we last heard from Mia, and her life is drastically different from what it was in most of the series. Why has it been awhile? Mia’s been too busy to write in her journal because she’s written a historical romance novel! She’s now trying to get it published under a pen name. She hasn’t told anyone about it; they think she’s been writing a senior project on Genovian olive growing. A four hundred page project on Genovian olive growing. Anyway, she’s collecting quite a stack of rejections as Daphne Delacroix when Michael asks to read the project (still thinking it’s about Genovian olive growing), and Mia is less than thrilled with the idea of her ex-boyfriend reading her romance novel. With sex scenes.

Michael has been in Japan for two years. He and Mia tried to stay friends, but it’s really just been infrequent emails, and they’re far from close. In fact, he doesn’t even tell her when he comes back to Manhattan, but of course it’s all over the news, because the project he went to Japan to pursue is a major success. Awkward situations ensue. 

It’s even more complicated because, even though she’s been going out with JP for two years, Michael’s return makes her rethink their relationship and JP, and see everything in a new light. On top of all of that, Mia’s also about to turn eighteen, and Grandmere is planning her party–never a good idea. She’s also going to graduate high school, and she still has to figure out where she’s going to college next year. Oh, and if that’s not enough for Mia to deal with at once, her father’s run for Genovia’s first Prime Minister isn’t going as well as she had hoped. And she’s only got about three weeks to sort out all of this!

In Forever Princess, Mia’s life is as crazy and confused as ever. Mia is herself, but I love how she’s grown as the series has progressed, too. She’s definitely a different girl than she was in book one, or even book nine, and it’s wonderfully realistic. As always, I loved every minute spent in Mia’s head. There are books I’m reluctant to put down, and then there are books that I literally cannot put down and must read during dinner–this one was definitely the latter type! I laughed loudly, I cringed in embarassment, I wanted to beat some sense into Mia for being so stupid sometimes (but still completely understood why she thought and acted as she did). That’s one of the many things I love about Meg Cabot–her characters always make sense. They’re always just like real people. Even more so in Mia’s case, perhaps, because Mia’s voice is so much like the author’s natural one (read Meg’s blog and you’ll see what I mean–it’s no surprise that the inspiration for these stories came from her own journals!). These are people, though, not just characters, and I’ve loved getting to know them over the past ten books (plus the short side stories). I’m sad to see them go. I wish that this book was not the last in the Princess Diaries series, but at least I have Ransom My Heart, Mia’s romance novel, sitting next to me, too! 

Meg Cabot is at her best here; this book is funny and well-written and still manages to feel fresh and new despite its predictability. I seem to remember Meg saying once on her blog that she still thought she wrote romance novels (correct me if I’m wrong), and it’s true; I love the romances in her stories. However, there’s a lot more to these books than romance (not to sell romance novels short or anything, as most of them are more than the romance, too)–these are books about life. And, sure, Mia’s the princess of a small European country, but she’s also very much someone you could imagine meeting at school or in the library or at a protest march. She’s someone you could imagine hanging out with and talking to. She’s trying to figure out herself and her future, just like most high school seniors. She’s a very relatable and still very interesting character. I’m sorry to see her go, because even though there’s a nice ending to this story, Mia’s so real that it feels like her story is far from over. I feel like she and the rest of the people in her life are out there somewhere in the world, and it’s a rare author who can make their characters feel that real. 

Five out of six windows and a heart:

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