This engrossing story of a good girl’s fascination with her wild new friend strikes chords that will resonate with many teens.
Stella has always been popular, gotten good grades and helped her waitress mom with two younger siblings and the housework. She’s dazzled when she meets Ruby, who struts into their high school and simply takes over Stella’s life. Confident Ruby couldn’t care less about conforming to high-school social standards, nor does she mind breaking the law. She dates college men, finding romance a game, and includes cautious Stella in all of her risky adventures. Eventually, however, Ruby falls for a much older man, and Stella’s sure he’s bad news—especially after he introduces Ruby to cocaine. As Ruby’s reputation crashes in school, Stella loyally continues their friendship, losing her own lifelong friends in the process. Finally, when she tries to save Ruby from her mistakes, she stands to lose even Ruby. In her debut, Guerra demonstrates insight into the temptations and troubles of late adolescence, all rendered with nicely flowing prose and dialogue. She grounds her story in reality, and her characters come across as interesting, believable individuals, with Stella especially sympathetic and Ruby a standout original. If her resolution seems a bit rosy, nevertheless it will please many readers. It’s suitable for both conservative and general audiences.
A strong new voice. (Fiction. 12 & up)