Author: Paige Harbison
Release: January 31st, 2012
Book Depository | Goodreads
Received for review from NetGalley; this has no effect on the outcome of this review.
They call me 'New Girl'...
Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderley 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.
New Girl is...interesting. I found it hard to put my thoughts together once I was through because there were different layers to it, half of which I loved, half of which drove me nuts.
We have two narrators; New Girl, who is a Floridian sent to a Northeastern boarding school in her senior year, and Becca Normandy, the giant shoes she has to fill, no matter how much she doesn't want to. New Girl's chapters are a practice in confusion and loneliness - the kids at school aren't particularly nasty to her at all, they just really loved Becca, who has gone missing. Becca's chapters are the typical spoiled brat determined to be popular trope, but as we move along we realize she's a girl with so much doubt and no idea what she wants, which anyone can relate to.
Weighing these characters against each other, it's easy to root for New Girl and hate Becca simply for the legacy New Girl has to live up to, but the book isn't that simple. Becca is a trainwreck of a girl, and though the simplistic bent of her narrative bugged me at first, it's hard not to sympathize with her. I might not have loved her at the end, but I knew who Becca was and why she was.
The romance here is actually pretty damned good. It's not your straight up boy meets girl, crushes ensue, everyone ends up happily ever after type of story. It's much more complex and messed up at times, which is easy to say of the entire book.
New Girl is a pretty good read at the end of it all, a complex, interesting novel highlighting two very different girls and who they are and choose to be.