cover image Private

Private

Kate Brian, Author . Simon Pulse $8.99 (227p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1873-8

When Reed leaves her troubled Pennsylvania home and begins posh Easton Academy as a scholarship student, she immediately attracts the attention of cute senior Thomas Pearson. She also quickly comes to the attention of the popular Billings Girls, who can be nice, mean or indifferent towards her, depending on the day. Reed puts up with their behavior knowing that if she "could just enter that inner sanctum, every door at Easton would open up to me." Keeping up academically proves a challenge, but Reed also faces other tests, such as stealing an exam for the Billings Girls—or figuring out why they warn her about her now-boyfriend, Thomas, who has his own connections to their circle. The set-up seems scripted and the Billings Girls themselves are stereotypical (Noelle is the Alpha girl, Taylor is the brain, etc.), but Reed is more complex than most of this genre's narrators. She has an abusive mother "who likes pills with her bourbon," and admits that her connection to Thomas, the son of alcoholics, is partly due to finding "someone who understood." Of course, when Thomas accuses her of using him to get to the Billings Girls, he is somewhat right about that, too. The conclusion leaves plenty of questions—including where Thomas has disappeared to. Readers will no doubt eagerly await the next installment in Brian's (The Virginity Club ) Private series, Invitation Only , due out this fall. Ages 14-up. (July)