Thursday, February 16, 2012

NEW GIRL by Paige Harbison

Author: Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Number of Pages: 304
Source of Book: NetGalley ARC

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back

OK, this is one of those books that I kept reading hoping I would like it more, but unfortunately, it never quite hit the mark for me. Now, part of that is because of the context from which I come to reading books. As a teacher, a part of my brain as I'm reading is always engaged in thinking about if I would put a book in my classroom, and to which students in particular I want to "hand sell" it. From my point of view, NEW GIRL is not appropriate for middle school students. There are quite a few mature scenes with parties and relationships. There are no consequences for the sex in the book, and it's not really thought out ahead of time, which, for me, makes it something I can't recommend to young teens. So because of those content concerns, it made it hard for me to enjoy the book because it didn't feel totally realistic to me.

Then there were the intense characters. I kept reading to find out what would happen, but I didn't really like the characters - that made it difficult to like the book overall. I didn't connect with either of the girls (in fact one is pretty difficult to like at all); however, I actually liked the guys quite a bit. I wish there had been more of them - I think I would have liked the story better if it was actually their story.

The story is told from the points-of-view of the two girls: the new girl and the one she's replacing. To distinguish between the two characters, the new girl's chapters are told in first person and Becca's chapters are in third person. It made it clear, but honestly, for me, it was a little jarring each time I have to mentally switch between POVs. In addition, the way in which the story jumped around was a little difficult for me to follow. Time would pass, and I wasn't always able to understand it right away.

Overall, it's an interesting mystery and the way the two stories were intertwined was intriguing. This story really shows how one manipulative person can really impact a community. The ending has an in your face wrap up and explanation of the lesson that isn't my preference for writing style. I appreciate more when the lessons are more subtly included. Ultimately, I did finish the book, and I read it in only two days, which shows how much the plot grabs the reader and makes you want to keep reading to find out what the true story is behind it all.

1 comment:

  1. I was looking forward to this one, but I might not read it now. It sounds good but I can certainly see where it could go wrong. Thanks for the honest review!