Two sisters painfully discover that money can’t buy happiness in this provocative family drama.
When Alex and Thea’s struggling single mom marries a Greenwich, Conn., millionaire, the girls’ responses to their elevated lifestyle demonstrate the differences in their personalities. Older sister Alex tries to ignore the new wealth by restricting her enjoyment of it, including the food she allows in her body. Thea, though, sees the money as an opportunity to reinvent herself, even if it means telling elaborate lies to gain entrance to the in crowd. Both girls miss the bond they shared with their mother during the lean times, but that doesn’t keep them from throwing a party at the mansion they call Camelot while the ’rents are away. Their self-destructive behaviors come to a head during the bash, and one finds unexpected redemption, while the other discovers just how low she will sink to get her sister’s attention. National Book Award finalist Griffin repeatedly nails the details of this tony community and its 1-percent residents with perfectly turned phrases that are just right. A high-end handbag is “plopped like an overfed tabby cat on the seat,” while a financially struggling classmate owns a wallet “as ancient as the Dead Sea Scrolls and always flat as a pita besides.”
A sumptuously written examination of sibling rivalry and socioeconomic class. (Fiction. 14 & up)