A girl gets caught in a lie she didn’t tell but doesn’t have the courage to correct in this suspenseful, well-written problem novel.
Samantha wants to spark some romantic interest from her best friend and secret heartthrob Nick, so she makes a play for popularity-magnet Carter. He rebuffs her, but someone sees her leaving his bedroom in tears and jumps to the false conclusion that Carter assaulted her. Sam doesn’t hear about the resulting rumors until she returns to school. Soon she feels too overwhelmed by social pressure to deny them. Sam finds many opportunities to confess the truth, but she can’t bring herself to exonerate Carter. Grace makes Sam’s dilemma plausible for quite some time, then at last allows her to privately confess but still find a reason to continue the charade. Complicating matters, Sam knows that because of the deception, she’s likely to lose Nick, who finally has declared his love for her. Although Sam’s cowardice in the face of her moral difficulty may frustrate some readers, the author effectively maintains tension as her heroine acts like a villain, and her villain is falsely accused. The story pulls no punches in its resolution, and neither does Sam in her judgment of her own actions.
Honest and constantly interesting. (Fiction. 14 & up)