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Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Girl - Paige Harbison

Released February 2012

Paige Harbison
Harlequin Teen

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

A year ago, I discovered a college-aged author who really impressed me. I'm delighted that Paige Harbison's releasing her second novel, New Girl. Like Here Lies Bridget, the author creates characters that I'm certain teens will relate to and find themselves engrossed in their story.

In New Girl, readers meet an unnamed character who used to wish that a private school in New Hampshire would accept her into their program. Years later, she's forgotten about the school, but her parents never did. Learning she's been accepted, she doesn't have the heart to tell her parents that she's no longer interested. Instead, she packs up and leaves warm, sunny Florida for cold, snowy New England.

At Manderley Academy, the new girl is not accepted with a warm welcome. Her roommate treats her like dirt and the whispers of fellow students are all to noticeable. She soon learns that Becca, a popular student, disappeared and that's the only reason she landed a spot at Manderley. Soon, she's being accused of trying to fill Becca's shoes, including claiming Becca's boyfriend as her own. Rumors are that Becca was pregnant and disappeared to have the child, others fear she's dead. The new girl can't help but wonder if Becca is really out there or if the boys she loved may have caused her harm.

New Girl takes a spin at the classic novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It's been decades since I read Rebecca, so I really don't remember much about the novel. I read it for school and books I read in school tended not to stick with me.

That aside, Paige Harbison's novel did leave an impression. First, Becca is a very mixed-up character. Readers learn more about her as the novel progresses. There are times when chapters are told from Becca's viewpoint in the past making it easy to get to know her. I definitely preferred the main character as she had common sense and perseverance. She goes through a lot and grows along the way. I also liked Max, Becca's boyfriend, and loved watching his encounters with the unnamed heroine of the story.

The mystery regarding Becca's disappearance didn't actually shock me. I'd figured it out by the half-way point. I also read a lot of mysteries, so it's not uncommon for me to solve a book before the ending. I think teens will enjoy going through the facts and trying to figure things out.

All in all, New Girl is another great read. It proves that Paige Harbison is going to be a name to watch.

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