New Girl by Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Upcoming Release Date: January 31, 2012
Target Audience: Young Adult
How I found out about it: I requested it from NetGalley – loved the summary and the cover!
Format: E-galley received from NetGalley
Summary: An unnamed new girl accepts a position at Manderly Academy boarding school for her senior year of high school. Though she expects a “Hogwarts” experience, she has to face the truth – she has filled the one position open at this institution because popular girl Becca disappeared months prior to the start of school.
So what would you do if the entire school was grieving a girl you’d never met but thought you wanted to replace?
Imagine that you move into a new house. You are trying to settle there, but you also see how everyone else did things before you. How they lived and loved. The people that they surrounded themselves with. It’s like you’re surrounded by their shadows. Aside from you, the house is empty and abandoned – those people are long gone with absolutely no explanation for their disappearance. All the things and people they loved remain. You’re pushed to be a replacement. You’re constantly reminded of how those other people did things better, bigger, differently than you. You can’t replace them. In fact, you don’t want to.
It sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it?
For the new girl, it was. This new girl, nameless until the end of the book, was given the chance I wish I’d had. A chance to go to boarding school and to break out of the mold of her hometown. As a huge fan of Harry Potter, when she’s finally accepted her senior year, she expects lifelong friendships to be formed just like the ones of Harry, Hermoione, and Ron.
The reality is much different.
She’s constantly compared to a girl she doesn’t know and one she may never know if Becca doesn’t return. She’s not trying to replace Becca and while she doesn’t make an effort to be Miss Popularity, everyone assumes she’s trying to make them forget their lost friend.
The story is told from Becca and the new girl’s perspectives. We go back in time to get the truth about Becca’s life and we learn of the many lies she told to everyone at the school. We see present day from the new girl’s point of view. The stories blend easily and effortlessly together. With subtle hints we’re able to piece together the puzzle of Becca’s disappearance. This book was full of confusing friendships and dating relationships, incredible amounts of animosity, and raging emotions over the loss of Becca.
Speaking of insane emotions – Dana, the new girl’s roommate, was full of them. This chick was seriously messed up. She ranged from nice to deceptive to downright aggressive; she seemed extremely bi-polar. I had no love whatsoever for Dana; she treated everyone with such contempt. There were hints that she knew the truth about what happened to Becca and I just couldn’t wait for her to spill everything. Her behavior was so suspicious, and she seemed extremely protective over the two men that were in Becca’s life.
Max and Johnny were two boys that utterly complicated the entire situation. Somehow Becca was involved with BOTH of these boys. When they would pop in and out of the new girl’s life, I questioned their character and trustworthiness. I felt extremely protective over this girl who just seemed to be thrown to the wolves. She had absolutely no one she could talk to, and I just wanted to be there to help her through all the drama. I’m a girl who enjoys a good love story, but things were so mixed up that I actually preferred her staying away from the boys because I didn’t want her heart to be broken. (Or for Dana to go psycho on her.)
This story was meaty and complicated. It moved swiftly and though the story is dense, it never felt overwhelming. With the alternating points of view and flashbacks, this story could have been difficult to follow. There is a lot to take in and Harbison did a great job making sure everything flowed well. I felt so compelled to read as fast as I could so I would figure out what happened to Becca. (And, if I’m being honest, I wanted to know the new girl’s name.)
New Girl will hit bookshelves on January 31st. Don’t forget to add it to your to-read list and pick up a copy! You’ll anxiously be awaiting answers, but it’s definitely unpredictable and worth the wait.