Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

New Girl 
by Paige Harbison
Published: January 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Available: Amazon


They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.


I was really surprised by this book. When I first started reading I thought it was going to be a bit fluffier. Maybe some kind of Gossip Girl meets Harry Potter. I was definitely surprised, in a good way, especially after I've run into three books before this that I either couldn't finish or had to struggle through.

Told using two different points of view, the missing Becca and the "New Girl", Harbison gives an amazing contrast of two girls who essential want the same thing. Acceptance and love. But go about it in completely different ways, each resulting in very different outcomes.

Harbison writes the "New Girl" (her name doesn't appear until the very end, so I won't spoil it for you) as a normal teen, who at first appears to be on the meek side. Even though she has no desire to go to boarding school, she does it because she knows how happy her parents are to give her the opportunity. Yes, it is a weak move, but it's also kindhearted and as someone who moved during high school I could also see her excitement about maybe being able to create an entirely different person, even if it never happens. The best part about the "New Girl" for me was how she comes to the realization that she deserves more than to just be a sad replacement for the missing Becca. There were moments were I became frustrated by her lack of willingness to tell her parents or someone about what was happening at school, but closer to the end there is a point where she begins to understand why she didn't. 

Becca's point of view is much more sexually charged, and she defines herself by her sexual appeal to the boys and the girls around her. She is all about appearing perfect and desirable. I didn't really like her character at first, because she was such a negative contrast to the "New Girl", but she grew on me and by the end I could understand why she was doing the things she did.

This book is definitely not for anyone who is against sex in YA books. Harbison doesn't go into gritty detail, but it's pretty obvious that the characters are sexually active and not just with one person. I like that she doesn't just gloss over, although the scenes are a lot more detailed with Becca than "New Girl" and for me it made sense. Becca uses sex as a way of taking control and uses the boys she's with. It's not about love and she has no boundaries for intimacy, so reading about her sex life isn't surprising. "New Girl" does see it as an expression of emotion and that sex is something private that while she doesn't hide, she doesn't see why it is anyone else's business what she is doing, so it comes across as more of an implication of sex instead of the harsher details the reader gets with Becca. 

I definitely recommend New Girl and will be looking for more from Harbison.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard very mixed things about this book, but I'm glad you liked it, since I'm definitely going to try it--I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which it's based on.