Each year, a new version of Teva grows inside her and forces her way out, leaving her discarded self to join their earlier versions; this Teva, 16, won’t let that happen.
The blonde, blue-eyed, white Tevas live with their single mother. To maintain the fiction that Mom has just one child, only the latest Teva is permitted to leave the house and attend school. The younger girls are docile, but Fifteen is jealous that her successor has appropriated her South Asian best friend, Maddy, and boyfriend, Ollie, and, furious, schemes to reunite with him. Teva’s consumed with guilt at the freedom only she has, while fearful of the time when she too will be displaced. Unlike Fifteen, she’s drawn not to Ollie but to Tommo, a classmate whom she tutors in English in return for his help in a textiles project. (Both boys are attractive but racially ambiguous, implying a white default.) Teva researches her condition and, to that end, creates a blog under a fake name, to preserve the secrecy her mother insists on. At the same time, she’s haunted by a growing fear that her younger versions might not exist outside her own mind. The promising high concept is hampered by slack pacing, an oddly flat emotional tone (more Gossip Girls than Carrie), and clichéd, by-the-numbers romance complete with mean girls, college-application angst, and unwarranted focus on the minutiae of high school routine. The book is a British import, and both language and setting have been Americanized.
A nifty premise that falls short of its potential. (Science fiction. 13-16)