cover image Girl Overboard

Girl Overboard

Justina Chen Headley, . . Little, Brown, $16.99 (339pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01130-3

Adding to a category overrun with poor-little-rich-girl plotlines, Headley (Nothing But the Truth [and a few white lies] ) crafts a tale that will stand out in the crowd by offering a good dose of girl power and an intriguing family backstory. Fifteen-year-old Syrah Cheng, daughter of a billionaire mobile phone magnate, has blown out her knee after a snowboarding accident and can no longer hit the slopes. She still feels shattered by the realization that her would-be boyfriend was only after her father’s money, and is too afraid to reciprocate her best friend’s overtures toward another kind of relationship (“Why chance turning Age into a here-today-gone-tomorrow boyfriend?”). Add to that two absentee parents and a pair of adult half-siblings who hate her guts, and Syrah, the narrator, is sinking into a full-on pity party, finding respite only in her manga journal. But even when Syrah complains, the tone stays tart, conveying a tough-girl personality that leaves room for vulnerability. As the novel shifts from Syrah’s self-pity to her self-critique, its scope grows more interesting, especially when Syrah learns more about her family. The outsize scale of the family fortune and prestige, combined with the gratifying empowerment theme, will attract (and hold) Meg Cabot fans. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)