Anatomy of a Misfit

Andrea Portes. HarperTeen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-231364-5

As the third most popular girl in school, 15-year-old Anika Dragomir worries a lot about her precarious social rank, which means tolerating the casual cruelties of Becky Vilhauer, who rules their Nebraska high school with an iron fist. Morally conflicted, Anika surreptitiously tries to undo some of Becky’s damage (such as dismantling an invented pregnancy rumor), but Anika’s secret relationship with geek-turned-hottie Logan McDonough only adds to her problems. This nascent romance is further complicated when Jared Kline, “the biggest stone-cold fox in the city, possibly in the state,” unexpectedly starts courting Becky and she gets disturbing glimpses of Logan’s home life. In this YA debut, adult author Portes (Hick; Bury This) serves up a self-deprecating and highly memorable heroine whose bawdy, laceratingly funny narration makes her instantly endearing while also revealing her flaws, uncertainties, and ethical quandaries. Throughout, Portes hints that tragedy is in the cards, and while the final chapters flirt with melodrama, the novel will leave many readers dwelling on missed opportunities to take a stand in their own lives. Ages 14–up. Agent: Katie Shea Boutillier, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Sept.)