cover image Bittersweet Sixteen

Bittersweet Sixteen

Carrie Karasyov, Author, Jill Kargman, Author HarperCollins Publishers $15.99 (230p) ISBN 978-0-06-077844-6

This would-be diversion takes its plot straight out of the official Chick Lit recipe file (pre-teen division): first, pirate a Gossip Girl setting (fictional Tate Academy, ""the top private all-girls academy in New York,"" on the Upper East Side); add in a character reminiscent of the A-List series (designer-draped Sophie, an L.A. native and daughter of a big-time producer); borrow the central plot device of MTV's My Super Sweet 16; and sprinkle liberally with brand names. For years, poor-but-proud aspiring fashion designer Laura, who narrates, has been content to play second fiddle to her self-assured, ""effortlessly flawless"" best friend, Whitney. Sophomore year promises more of the same until two events shake up the status quo: brash Sophie joins the girls' class, and Whitney sets out to nab Jake (""more than just a stud horse with a stunning face""), whom Laura considers a special friend. Sophie and Whitney form a tenuous alliance: one minute they are planning an elaborate joint sweet 16 bash, and the next they are sworn enemies competing over Jake-and everything else-with Laura acting as the mediator until both girls turn on her. Meanwhile, Laura's evolving relationship with Jake confuses her (although its general direction will be crystal clear to readers). The torturously trendy dialogue (""I can totally tell you are emitting a killer style vibe"") outstays its welcome. Though the sleek cover art promises guilty pleasures galore, what's inside is, as the narrator might put it, just plain boring-issimo. Ages 12-up.