A young girl moves with her family to the suburbs, leaving her best friend behind and learning that relationships and growing up are more complicated than she imagined.
In this debut novel, 10-year-old Audrey Tabor has a “pretty terrific” life in Boston with her parents, little brother, and best friend, Milly, right across the street. The only downside is their cramped city apartment with no yard to play in, so Audrey is thrilled when her parents find a house they can afford in the nearby suburb of Greenwood Springs. She is sad to leave Milly behind but excited about her new life, and she even finds a new good friend in Gretchen, a girl in her fifth-grade class. Gretchen warns her about the “Style Girls,” a clique of mean preteens who rule the fifth grade by promoting superficial values of fashion and wealth and aiming vicious barbs at any girl who doesn’t measure up. Audrey is confused, however, when the Style Girls approach her and offer her a place in the group. They seem so nice, so cool, and, almost without realizing it, Audrey abandons Gretchen and Milly and finds she is willing to do almost anything to remain in the clique. Koresky expertly unravels the closely woven threads of social insecurity, economic class, and body image that have begun to shape the lives of 21st-century girls at an earlier and earlier age. Although the reader can see the perilous situation Audrey embraces, her portrayal is so sensitive and realistic that one never loses sympathy with her as she begins to lie to her friends and family, adopt the Style Girls’ aristocratic cruelty, and diet to the point of emaciation, all the while realizing that she will never really fit in. The one glaring omission is any mention of the internet and the cyberbullying that would doubtless appeal to the cellphone-addicted Style Girls. The ending is somewhat pat, but since Audrey’s character is so well-developed and the supporting cast so strong, her journey still resonates.
A well-written and engaging cautionary tale about the issues facing preteen girls in modern society.