Everyone has secrets and some are more devastating than others. With those big, gut wrenching secrets, it's nice to have someone to confide in. The trouble comes, though, when someone starts threatening you with that deep, dark past.
Alison was best friends with Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily. That is, of course, until the seventh grade when she suddenly disappeared. Now juniors in high school, the four remaining girls have grown apart and have started to live lives that they'd probably like to keep secret. Spencer realizes that she has a major crush on her snotty sister's boyfriend, Aria has fallen in love with a young English teacher, Hanna is stealing and dealing with image issues, and Emily might be falling in love with the new girl in town. As the girls struggle with these problems, all begin to receive messages from someone named A, referring to things they'd only shared with Alison. Could she have returned even though many believed her to be dead? If it wasn't Alison, then who could be contacting them? What would it mean if their secrets were revealed? Soon everything starts to unravel and the girls struggle to make sense of everything happening in their lives.
When I picked up this book, mainly to find out what all the hype was about, I expected to read a shallow, prep school, high society novel. It turns out, though, that this book has so much more to offer. Yes, these girls go to a ritzy school and shop at places like Tiffany's and yes, there's drinking and some sex, but this novel has so much more going on than just boyfriend stealing and backstabbing. Each character is developed and has her own complex story and struggles. I'll admit that it takes a little while to develop each character, but the wait is worth it. No one is more important than the other. At the same time, each story is different and, in a way, something the reader can relate to. That's not to say everyone is sleeping with their teacher, but I feel like these characters speak to complicated world some teens face. Then, besides the great struggles of each character, this novel has this amazing umbrella conflict of who A is and what does she want. On top of that, there's some "Jenna Thing" that haunts all four girls. The suspense and interesting story lines really makes this novel stand out.
So much about this book has me enthralled, but I think most of it comes from the fact that it didn't turn out like I expected. I like the characters and it has me intrigued to find out what happens. This novel is a great draw-in to a new series.