Three close friends, one of them African-American, one Hispanic and one mixed-race, begin their freshman year at Texas’ Port City High in an accessible, if occasionally clunky, series opener.
Chapters are simple and short, and each girl has a defined storyline. Brandi gets involved with an older boy who pressures her sexually from almost the first date. Marisa is dismayed to discover she has feelings for Brandi’s ex-boyfriend. Shane, who has been trying to break herself of the habit of smoking weed, is given Adderall by a friend and spirals into addiction with exaggerated swiftness. Chapters cycle among the three girls’ points of view, though occasionally a minor character’s point of view slips in, which is somewhat distracting. Despite some conflicts, the girls support each other, whether by talking through boy troubles or by choosing to wear matching purity rings. Some elements of the storytelling, however, are shaky: Vocabulary is not always carefully chosen (“ ‘Well?’ Brandi stated when the girls sat down”), and some Spanish words and phrases are written incorrectly. The narrative frequently describes to readers how the girls are feeling, which makes the action easy to follow but sometimes seems redundant.
Warmhearted and easy to read, despite some flaws. (Fiction. 12-14)