Tuesday, December 13, 2011
"New Girl" (ARC) ~ Paige Harbison
Does anyone really enjoy being the new girl? With the anxiety of the unknown and the pressure of whether or not you'll fit in, the position of "new girl" is not usually a coveted one. However, the upside to being the new girl is, if you don't like you who you are then you can choose to be someone else. In this story of one girl's struggle to hold onto her identity and self worth amidst the craziness around her, she finds the strength to let go while not allowing others to decide who she is. In doing so, she might just find the love she's been hoping for. This book has a little of everything, truth and lies, love and deceit, friendship and betrayal. It also has an unsolved mystery and an old boathouse that leaves the lines between dreams and reality blurred.
Callie finds herself in the role of "new girl" as she prepares to start her Senior Year at Manderly Academy in New Hampshire, a far cry from her home in warm, sunny Florida. She has no idea when she arrives at school that her "new girl" status is anything but ordinary, in fact, it will quickly go from awkward to hauntingly bizarre. You see, the girl who came before her, Becca Normandy, left some pretty big shoes to fill and even though she neither wants to nor is she trying to fill them, everyone around her acts as if she is and Callie finds the pressure almost unbearable.
Dana, her roommate is hostile towards her and takes every opportunity to remind Callie that she's not Becca and she never will be. Becca's other friends treat Callie as if she wants nothing more than to emulate the missing girl and as hard as she tries, Callie can't seem to convince them otherwise. They repeatedly warn her to stay away from Max because when Becca comes back, (and they're convinced she will) they will be together again and live happily ever after! Um, ok-ay.
All of the strange behavior makes Callie near crazy. The constant comparisons between she and Becca start to wear down her confidence and she begins to doubt her own self worth. How is she supposed to measure up to someone as perfect as Becca? To a girl who isn't even here? What really bugs her is, she just can't understand why everyone seems so obsessed with the missing girl. Everyone that is, except for Max. Max Holloway, is the one person Callie has been warned to stay away from but he's also one of the few people who treat her like she's a normal person. Blake, Cam and even Johnny are nice to her but not like Max. The more time they spend together the more she begins to question the validity of his and Becca's "golden couple" status. He seems genuinely interested in her, even coming to her defense when the verbal attacks from other students turn vicious but he also pulls away from her whenever they start to get too close. What's she supposed to think?
Everything is so confusing for Callie and she tries a few times to talk to Leah, her BFF from back home but she's always caught up in her own boy drama. To make matters worse, when Callie goes home over break, her old friends have found out about the "missing girl" drama at school and pepper her with questions she really doesn't want to answer. With her home no longer a refuge and school being a living nightmare, Callie is left feeling completely alone. Everywhere she looks (it seems) there are couples in love, whether it's Leah and her on again, off again creep of a boyfriend Michael, or Cam and Blake or even the constant chatter of Becca and Max. She starts to feel sorry for herself and wonders if there will ever be anyone to love her?
When something happens on New Years Eve that causes Callie to rethink not only her friendships (how well do you really know someone?) but also her decisions about her future, she finally realizes she is worth something - just the way she is. When she returns to school, she does so with a renewed strength in herself and a determination to make it to graduation on her own terms. She does finish out her year stronger than when she began it but not without facing a few more challenges. In the end, she'll discover that sometimes people only see what they want to see regardless of what you show them and sometimes, leaving the place you've always felt safest is the only way to find out who really are.