Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review- New Girl by Paige Harbison

New Girl
by Paige Harbison
January 31st, 2012
Harlequin Teen


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.

Teens have a hard enough time trying to figure out who they are as they go through their years between 12 and 17 or 18.  But imagine being called "New Girl" all through the school year, because that's who you are and no one tries to get to know you. They're too busy trying to tell you who you'll never be. You'll never be the effervescent  Becca, the other new girl, last year's new girl who is missing.  She is assured time and time again that she will never live up to Becca's image, personality, nor will she ever be allowed or gain the interest of Max nor Johnny because they both were in love with Becca and are just waiting for her return to rekindle their romance.  Everyone believes she's coming back, or so she's led to believe.

The beauty of this novel is that we never get a name for the New Girl.  She just goes with New Girl and allows people to call her that and treat her like the New Girl. She futilely tries to stand up for herself and we are inside her head knowing that she is not some spineless creature, she's just never been in this position, friendless, outcast, social pariah.  She's always been friendly outgoing, social. It's new territory, for the New Girl.  And trying to deny she's wanting Becca's life is pointless because in some ways she does. Who doesn't want to be beautiful and loved by everyone and she kind of does like Max and she feels bad about all of it.

But this is the year that things change for the New Girl.  I didn't think she should have put up with the treatment she got from Max. I wouldn't have. She deserved better than that. Max was sweet with her sometimes, but he blew so hot and cold, she couldn't count on him.  The New Girl learned to rely on herself and that she could make it by herself in a place of isolation. She grew up. Found out what the real world was like and tested the waters for the coming years.  Her plans had always been to go to FSU (boo hiss) with all her friends from high school, but this year away, taught her that maybe, she should challenge herself. Maybe step out of her comfort zone.  In her isolation, she learns who she really is and isn't.

The chapters are told in alternating points of view, though it might be told three chapters Me as in the new girl and two chapters Becca which was the year before.  We can tell she, Becca,  is a troubled girl, certainly narcissistic , but also more  impressed with appearance than her own happiness.  Max plus Becca equals most beautiful couple on campus, and Becca most envied. But is she happiest with him? It doesn't seem to matter. She does seem to have a heart and we see bits and pieces of it leak through her plans.

But the "New Girl" garners the most sympathy from us. Be it a tirade from her roommate who was Becca's one true friend and former roommate  or a "You can't like Max or Johnny, because you'd just be hurt when Becca is comes back. Max is going to marry her. We're trying to spare you from getting hurt," talk from Madison and Julia.

This novel was filled with tension from the time the "New Girl" set foot on the campus of  Manderly until she graduated. I kept waiting for Becca to return, or for her roommate to try to kill her. And I'm not saying attempts were not made on her life. Her roommate was extremely abusive.  The climax is unexpected and the accusations that fly are extremely revealing.  I loved this book. The tension, the "New Girl" finding herself and refusing to give in to the constant pressure of being something she wasn't, the mystery behind Becca's disappearance, it all lead to a great story. I've never read Rebecca so I don't know how it did as a retelling, but as a novel for today, I thought it was excellent!

Oh, as a rating, there was a lot of casual sex, drinking and drugs, the typical fare of boarding schools that actually does happen parents.  So be advised.  The sex is not detailed, but there is a lot of it and the drinking is excessive. You've been warned.  I think all of it was necessary for the story.
****There is a rape scene as well that I didn't remember when I posted this review*****

15 comments:

  1. Hey Great Review!! My sister read it and she just LOVED it!! Im glad you enjoyed reading it as well!

    Farah @MajiBookshelf

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  2. I agree!!! This was such an excellent read. I was so surprised that I loved New Girl so very much. And I didn't even realized we were missing her heart until the end... that just shows how awesome the storytelling was. Yes, Max did treat her really badly but being a girl in her age, having this super gorgeous boy being interested in you, I couldn't blame her. Also, I really liked the storytelling with getting Becca's story in the exact same timeline just a year before.

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  3. Another fab review. I so wish I could read as quickly as you Heather. :) X

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  4. I had a lot of trouble with this one, I just couldn't even feel the slightest sympathy for Becca so her chapters were hard for me to read. I definitely felt for New Girl, but I also wanted her to stand up for herself more and not take all the crap she got from Max and her roommate so easily. Just not the read for me I don't think, but I'm really glad you enjoyed it Heather, and you wrote an outstanding review.

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  5. Sounds interesting! And what a gorgeous cover. One to consider then? Great review, thanks. :)

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  6. I don't think I've ever heard of the original, Rebecca before. This sounds like a story I would be yelling at the characters during!
    - Jessica @ Book Sake

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  7. i haven't read rebecca either, but i really want to read this one. thanks for the review, heather!

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  8. Maji- Glad she liked it. I really didn't know if I would. It was certainly different from her first book!

    Danny-Agree with everything you say!

    Shah-I don't run three blogs and am not having a novel published. I have time to read,but really not enough.

    Jenny-You did see I called Becca a narcissist and I feel like she was a sociopath. I did not like her at all, but I was kind of fascinated at the way her mind worked. But I felt like even if "New Girl" wasn't openly standing up for herself, she was in a way by staying. Not letting them kick her out. Talking to the roommate would have gotten her NOWHERE! Max on the other hand, I thought was a jerk. And she was a bit desperate for his attention. So, I feel you!

    The Book Hour- Welcome! Haven't "seen" you before. I'd definitely consider it, but you might want to read Jenny's review or comments before you decide.

    Jessica- You'd be yelling def. But you'd also be chewing on your fingernails. It really is tense.

    Carrie- I think being historical book lovers, we owe it to ourselves to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier now. I think you can read this one first. It's probably one of those that's so old you can get it free on your Kindle or other e-reader or on your PC. But, I might want to hold it in my hand. I'm weird that way about the classics.

    Thanks for visiting. I cannot figure out why the stupid reply thing won't let me reply to you individually. Please bear with me. My settings are right. I might just switch to a different comment form.

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  9. I think the last Kresley Cole book you read was 'Demon From the Dark', after that comes 'Dreams of a Dark Warrior', then 'Lothaire'. Here's a link to her website: http://kresleycole.com/
    Elizabeth was a new character, Lothaire's mate. So you won't have read about her before. :)

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  10. I love the cover! But how awful to only ever be known as New Girl... to never be called by your real name... Poor girl! Sounds like a good book though.

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  11. I loved this book, I thought it was so well written. I did feel sympathy for Becca, obviously her past was pretty shady and in the end the way she acted was a bit of a cry for help.

    I saw some comments on the alcohol, drugs and horizontal tangos, but I also feel it added to the story - it wouldn't have been as intense otherwise!

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  12. I saw some Goodreads reviews that really hated this book for all of the sex and drinking, but I feel that these kinds of things are normal for lots of teens. I like to see that side of adolescence represented in fiction, too.

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  13. I love this review, Heather! You said everything so perfectly. I didn't like Max either, but, like Danny said, I can understand why New Girl put up with it. I liked how she grew by the end of the book and was able to stand on her own. Max was a jerk, but I like how she didn't depend on him like so many YA heroines.

    I really liked the intense almost persecution of New Girl.

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  14. You need to read the original Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (if you like Jane Austen style books). As far as retellings go, this was a pretty good one. It kept most of the chilly scenes and details from the original. (Manderly is the name of the estate in the original tale and "new girl" never has a name in the original either.) There is one HUGE surprise in the original that is left out of the new version, which was disappointing because it was a killer twist (no pun intended).

    I reviewed this one too since Rebecca is one of my all time favorite books. I think I like it more than Wuthering Heights for a ghost story/romance book.

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  15. eh, meant to say that I enjoyed your review too! I haven't had my coffee this morning.

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