A close-knit group of friends can’t leave their high school wrongdoings in the past.
When Grace Templeton’s father has an accident during the family’s latest overseas missionary trip, he decides to move back to California to heal. Grace is nervous about attending a new school, and even Luke, her big brother, can’t help her with what’s most important: fitting in. But Grace eventually finds her footing and her friendship group. Most important to her is Carly Sullivan, a charismatic, manipulative alpha girl. At Carly’s instance, the two of them join deferential Maggie and beautiful Jane to make a friendship pact prioritizing their loyalty to one another above all else. Now, years after graduation, Grace is haunted by memories of what went wrong with the Kitty Committee. As Berla (Going Places, 2018, etc.) reveals in a mix of present-day narration and flashbacks, the committee may have been a platform for bullying and control. At least, that’s the view of whoever’s been sending anonymous letters and emails to Grace, Maggie, and Carly once a year for the past two decades. Although the fallout from whatever happened with the group haunts Grace to this day, Carly is adamant that threatening letters are no big deal, and maybe nothing is a big deal to larger-than-life Carly. As Grace searches her past, she realizes that it’s connected to her present in sometimes predictable ways, and she feels that she can’t help but reveal the group’s secrets. But her reflections on manipulation and teenage-girl dynamics just don’t push the envelope enough to explain the perceived threat in the present.
The stakes never get high enough to build suspense, perhaps because Berla’s intent on walking a line between her usual YA audience and potential adult readers.