My Life in Pink and Green

My Life in Pink and GreenMy Life in Pink & Green tells the story of Lucy, a 7th grader who helps her mom and grandma at their drugstore. The store is struggling, and Lucy tries to find ways to help save the family business. She loves makeup and makeovers, which she uses to start her own little business. When she realizes that won’t be enough, she tries to take bigger steps, but has trouble getting her mom and grandma to have faith in her ideas.

At its core, the novel is about relationships—family, friends, neighbors, classmates, burgeoning crushes. It’s a slice of life type story, following Lucy through an eventful few months. It ends somewhat abruptly since life doesn’t follow neat story arcs. While I can understand this choice, it made my daughter pretty livid. She wanted at least an epilogue that gives some sense of how well Lucy’s choices work out for her. (Some research on Amazon reveals a sequel coming out in May 2013, but the book doesn’t give strong hints of a sequel aside from the abrupt end.)

Each chapter starts with a makeup or business tip, which my daughter found really interesting. They’re pretty much common sense, but probably informative for young readers.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid

Green Business

The novel has gotten attention as a green book, and it’s not surprising based on the discussions of recycling, green business, and other ecological issues that occur in the novel. There are recycling symbols all through the book. In some ways the environmental stuff feels forced; that said, it does offer plenty of specific suggestions of ways to be more environmentally conscious. Lucy and her friend Sunny join the Earth Club at school. Lucy applies for a green business grant for the eco spa she wants to open in the family drugstore.


Lucy’s mom is an activist, going to rallies and donating to causes. There are some stereotypes around this—Lucy’s mom seems a bit flaky and the grandmother wants her to be more practical. But the book is full of themes of helping people and making a difference in the world. Lucy tries hard to make her little corner of the world a better place.


The drugstore is really struggling. There’s talk of selling it and maybe selling their house. Although Lucy’s mom and grandma don’t fully share everything from her, they don’t hide it, either.


The money troubles cause a good bit of stress in the family. Mom and grandma often argue. Lucy is dealing with a lot on her own, such as starting her own makeover business and filling out the long application for the grant. Her older sister helps, but she’s far away at college. The normal stresses of middle school—academics, crushes, politics, friends—aren’t trivialized. Lucy’s stress is very real to her, and it’s handled seriously.


Lucy’s dad moved to England when she was three and she only sees him once a year. Her parents aren’t divorced, but since her mom has talked about dating again, they aren’t exactly still married, either. Lucy’s dad took her mother’s name when they got married, which she sees as a hint that he really loves her mom.

Lucy and her mom and grandma sometimes have conflicts, especially about money, business, and responsibilities. As the stress increases, this gets worse. Often they’re all talking past each other, not listening at all. It’s realistic without being melodramatic. At the core of it all, though, it’s obvious that they really love each other. Even pretty major fights and the occasional hurtful insult don’t indicate a lack of love. Lucy’s analysis of the relationship between her mom and grandma is pretty much right on—she can see how both of them are making communication more difficult.

Lucy’s older sister is away at college. There’s a little jealousy because her sister isn’t being asked to sacrifice anything in the face of the money problems, and sometimes Lucy desperately wishes her sister was home to help her cope with things. However, in spite of all of that, Lucy’s sister helps as much as she can, such as helping Lucy fill out the long application form for the grant.


The stress weighs on Lucy’s relationship with her best friend Sunny, too. Through it all, they’re still good friends. But family issues and new crushes put their friendship through the wringer. One thing I really appreciated is that tough times don’t mean that their friendship is over. Even though the girls are growing and changing at different paces, even though Lucy frequently gets annoyed by Sunny, their friendship can survive this. Lucy also realizes that she needs to be more patient with Sunny—her annoyance is partially based in how she’s responding to her friend, and that’s something she has control over.

Makeup and Beauty

I’m hyperconscious of the ways that the insecurities of tween girls are targeted by people selling clothes and makeup, so I was a little worried about how a book so focused on makeup and makeovers would deal with this. As long as you’re ok with your daughter being interested in using makeup at all, this book actually offers a lot of good guidance. The focus is on how makeup should be subtle, highlighting what’s already there. It should bring out your natural beauty instead of using your face as a palette to paint something new on top of. The biggest thing is that the right makeup and clothes can give you confidence, and it’s confidence that’s really beautiful.

Lucy prefers eco-friendly products with natural ingredients and ethical testing. She’s pretty clear about the fact that many makeup and hair products don’t fit that description.

Adults Don’t Listen to Kids

This is another major theme of the book. Lucy has a huge stake in whether or not the drugstore succeeds, so she’s trying to come up with ideas that might help. Her mother thinks she’s cute and her grandmother thinks she’s a distraction. Neither will really listen to what Lucy is suggesting and her grandmother often tells her to stop worrying about it because she should be enjoying her childhood.

Lucy finally starts doing things without asking them. She quietly starts her makeover business under their noses. She does ask about the relaxation room, but only after she has some ideas for how it will work. She applies for and gets the grant without mentioning it to them. She gets investors for the eco-spa behind their backs. Once she knows that they’ll just tell her no, she simply stops asking.


The little town where Lucy lives is pretty diverse. Sunny’s parents are from India. There are multiple girls celebrating their bat mitzvah or quinceañera, which gives Lucy several opportunities to do makeup and hair for big occasions.


My daughter really enjoyed this novel, aside from the ending; the fact that she cares so much about what happens to Lucy is a compliment to the book. I appreciated the idea that relationships can handle stress without exploding—I think that’s a message that isn’t passed along enough during the tumultuous tween years. Sometimes the environmental message felt a little forced, but I do appreciate the simple and specific ways that Lucy improves the world around her. She might not be saving the world, but she’s making a difference in her little corner. I’d recommend this for mature 9 year olds and up.


My Life in Pink & Green by Lisa Greenwald
Published in 2009 by Amulet Books
A sequel, My Summer of Pink & Green
Read the copy my daughter read for school

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