Reviewed by Katie Hayes for TeensReadToo.com
Tenth-grader Sophie has just started at a new school. At her previous school, she was frequently bullied, and she's eager to leave that behind her. She begins by making friends with Zelia, an intriguing but troubled loner. Under Zelia's influence, Sophie does things she's never done before, like smoking and panhandling. Before long, she learns some of Zelia's disturbing secrets and begins to have reservations about their friendship.
Sophie makes another friend, a girl named Max, while pursuing her interest in horseback riding. Max proves to be a saner and more reliable friend than Zelia, but she is keeping a major secret as well. Meanwhile, Sophie begins to realize that her own issues, which include a distorted body image, haven't disappeared just because she's changed schools.
While the plot isn't terribly original, Stevenson succeeds in painting a realistic picture of high school without veering too far into melodrama. She also does a nice job of making her characters well-rounded. Zelia, in particular, comes off as neither a villain nor a hero, but a believable, three-dimensional rebel. Also, each girl has her own problems, and Stevenson addresses them with sensitivity and without resolutions that feel too neat. Readers will recognize themselves or people they know in these characters, and I recommend it as a quick read that's very easy to relate to.