cover image Life by Committee

Life by Committee

Corey Ann Haydu. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-229405-0

Life has gotten weird for 16-year-old Tabitha. Her parents are expecting a baby and fighting about her father’s pot use; her best friend dumped her when a late puberty surge put Tabitha in the “hot” column; and she’s flirting with a guy who has a girlfriend. This is all happening in a small Vermont town where everyone knows everyone, and the whole school has a stake in the opposites-attract relationship between Joe, the jock Tabitha likes, and his girlfriend, an arty, sad-girl type. Then Tabitha discovers the website Life by Committee. Its anonymous members trade in secrets, and their M.O. is escalation: tell a secret, get an assignment, then repeat. Tabitha reveals that she kissed Joe, and her assignment is to do it again. Haydu (OCD Love Story) gets at the push-pull between wanting to keep and to divulge secrets, as well as the way that anatomy can feel like destiny. While the school-wide obsession with Joe’s girlfriend seems overstated, Haydu keeps a multi-strand plot moving, and the climax, a kind of 12-step meeting meets high-school assembly, is cathartic. Ages 14–up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider. (May)