A seemingly relentlessly chick-lit novel grows into something deeper as Hannah just can’t get her boyfriends and friendships straight.
The first day of her senior year at high school terrifies Hannah, but readers won’t know why until the book’s flashbacks to the previous summer reveal the reasons for her well-founded fears. Alternating chapters advance both the “first day” and the “summer” stories until they converge in the final emotional scenes. Barnholdt appeals to chick-lit readers with, like, totally believable dialogue between chicks, all the way down to the level of “he goes, then she goes” to describe conversations. Hannah begins the story by learning that her boyfriend has cheated on her and ends with some deceit of her own. The journey between those two events reveals much about contemporary adolescent mores while illuminating Hannah’s character. She overreacts to most problems, greatly concerned with her soon-to-be-demolished reputation. The author reveals Hannah’s best friend Ava’s duplicity, however, through Hannah’s growing realization that Ava often lies. She depicts girls as different and varied, such as Lacey, Hannah’s hypochondriac co-worker and new friend. With the exception of Noah, Hannah’s forbidden love, the various boys in the book, all studly, eventually merge into a blur.
It’s still chick lit, devoid of parental guidance, but it’s lit that will probably deepen some chicks’ understanding of relationships. (Chick lit. 12 & up)