A poor California girl finds her world turned upside down when her mother marries into the Boston ultrarich.
At the beginning of her junior year on California’s central coast, India is popular and well-liked, but her mother, Hayley, has fallen in love with a high-society lawyer from the opposite coast, which wrenches her away from everything she knows. From Day 1, Theo’s daughter, Eloise, makes it very clear that India’s an unwelcome intruder both in Theo’s mansion and at Eloise’s exclusive prep school. Flashback nightmares reveal an India who was horrifically abused for much of her childhood while Hayley was absent, leaving her with trust issues as massive as her palatial new home. Befriending Eloise’s blue-blooded social group teaches class-conscious India that poor kids who grew up in trailers are not the only ones with problems; rich white prep school kids have their own traumas (India’s race goes unmentioned, implying that she is white; Eloise is white). India experiences a powerful journey to self-love and self-respect in the face of both classism and sexual entitlement, but she is so thinly drawn she’s hardly real. The choppy prose of her journey from public high school student who can only afford takeout three times a year to mansion-dwelling prep school attendee in Massachusetts boils down to a focus on high-end architecture.
A coming-of-age journey that would be strong if only it starred a believable teen. (Fiction. 14-17)