Koja usually writes edgy short novella's about troubled kids. This book however could be called chick lit. It isn't her best work.
Lily Noble is daughter of a Vaughn Private School graduate and will probably be a Vaughn graduate as well. Her mother would just die if she wasn't. She has always been isolated from kids other than wealthy private school kids with all the social rules, knowing just what is expected of them. Sophomore year would be different however. Vaughn is known for its fine education of very bright kids. There are scholarship kids here. Orphan kids, kids from poor countries with good school records. Hazel, whose parents died when she was very young and has been raised by her artistic brother and his partner is one such student. Hazel has always been a public school kid with freedom to decide her own path to adulthood. The way she eats, the way she dresses, even the way she excels academically are all very different from a traditional Vaughn girl. She and Lily connect surprisingly and Lily begins to see a fascinating world she has never noticed before. Formerly friends only with girls socially like herself, she discovers other friends among other scholarship students when her friends abandon her for being friends with Hazel. I guess the girls change each other's lives forever. But in the end it seems like Hazel who is headed back to public school is just going back to her former life and Lily knows she will be staying at Vaughn and follow in her mother's footsteps so what really changed? Being chick lit there are references aplenty to trendy tote bags, clothing and so on. A disappointing read by someone who has done much better work. JDW 11/26/08