She said, she said, with a dose of Shakespearean intrigue.
Julia’s cozy, stable life is upended when her parents announce that she and her brother are moving with their mother to Toronto while their father stays behind in Montreal with the family store. Carla’s barreling through adolescence with an equal mix of sass and sex appeal when Jules moves in next door. Both girls are knocked for a loop when Ian, the bad boy with the come-hither eyes, rolls into town on his motorcycle. As they take turns telling the story of their disastrous grade 11 year, quiet, brainy Jules and brazen, mouthy Carla square off in the time-honored tradition of vicious high school rivalries. Their drama class’s production of Hamlet sets the stage for both complications and satisfying plot twists. Jules’ profound introspection and Carla’s utter lack thereof make them fitting, often comic, foils for each other as the tension between them—and for each of them, with Ian—gets higher with each chapter. Along the way, the supporting characters are sweetly if somewhat broadly drawn, coming off mostly true to type. The story is grounded in the sense of place created by Leznoff’s descriptions of Montreal and Toronto.
Steeped in the history of the Quebecois separatist movement and 1970s fashion and pop culture, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but it is a refreshing break from contemporary teen fiction. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)