In this first book of a series, a 16-year-old tries to repair a friendship she destroyed five years before.
Gemma’s summer begins with her sweet, steady boyfriend’s sudden decision to break up. Then circumstances require Gemma to leave her BFF and stay with her dad—in the Hamptons, a place that holds awful memories. It was here that 11-year-old Gemma, devastated by the possibility of her parents’ divorce, broke up her father and his new girlfriend, Karen, by doing horrendously mean things to her and her daughter, Hallie. Karen and her family return for vacation, and Gemma first runs into Josh, Hallie’s handsome brother, but due to her massive makeover, she goes unrecognized. It is then she decides to make it up to Hallie by doing a multitude of kind things for her. But soon Gemma’s falling for Josh, and the complex plot thickens. There is much for teen readers to like here: snappy and snippy dialogue, embarrassing situations, blossoming romance, pool parties and the constant tension of maintaining a secret. But the plot threads strain the moorings of credibility, and readers will have to be willing to suspend truckloads of disbelief to stay engaged. And due to the hefty infusion of mean-girl morality, it’s a challenge to stick by the main characters.
Here’s hoping the second volume will prove a lighter hand and a truer heart. (Fiction. 13-16)