Well if you want a depressing story, you've come to the right place (and if you don't want a depressing story, you should read this one anyways, it's worth it!). Stephanie comes from a poor family, one that is not rich with money or with love, as she is repeatedly beaten by her alcoholic mother while her father plays the role of coward. She throws herself into books, memorizing complicated vocabulary that she refers to as "Warrior Words" that help her to block the abuse from her mind. When Stephanie's mother leaves the family, her father is completely distraught and sends Stephanie to live with family friends in ritzy Los Angeles.
Having learned the art of lying from her mother, Stephanie uses dramatic stories to win over new friends. She isn't quite sure how to interact with these rich, snobby kids or the gorgeous boys that actually seem to take an interest in her. Before she knows it, Stephanie has more "frenemies" than she knows what to do with...and in reality, she really has no idea what this new world of hers is even about, not to mention the craziness of the life she left behind.
I was afraid that Stephanie's weaknesses brought on by her mother's abuse, would hinder her character throughout the entire story, but that wasn't totally the case. Though unable to fully understand the predicaments she was in and the consequences of the lies she was telling to fit in, Stephanie came across as realistic and honest. She does eventually start the healing process within herself and her confidence level grows, though it takes most of the book to get to that point. At first, I was a little annoyed by the slow progression, but in reality, abuse victims take a long time to heal, so of course, Stephanie would too.
For as drawn out as the rest of the story was, the ending came rather quickly for my liking. It was just kinda there and then done, rather than flowing nicely into the rest of the body of the book. I was, however, really pleased with how Stone decided to connect Amal and Stephanie and then leave room for continuation of their friendship. I wouldn't mind seeing an "Amal" story in the future!
Ooh...and for the record? I like the finished cover SO much better than the ARC, which looked like a replica of Willow by Julia Hoban. Great book, but I'm all for individuality.
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
An "issue" book with some Gossip Girl mixed in.
Mary Hanlon Stone
Review copy received from publisher
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