cover image Pretenders


Lisi Harrison. Little, Brown, $18 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-22244-0

Noble High is a pressure cooker of a school where excellence is expected and truly outstanding freshmen have a shot at making the “Phoenix Five.” As they start at Noble, aspiring actress Sheridan, basketball player Duffy, beautiful and driven Vanessa, home-schooled genius Lily, and Jagger (who doesn’t “have time for a last name”) have been assigned to keep journals. Initially resistant, they succumb to the lure of writing down their feelings, chronicling crushes, worries, and—increasingly—compromises, confusions, and corner-cutting. In this series opener, Harrison (the Clique series) makes the characters distinct and lively, starting from the isolation of day one and effectively building up their interactions and the resulting complications. By book’s end the students are barely into their first semester, and readers don’t yet know how they ended up with the coveted recognition of being named to the Phoenix Five or which one of them leaked the diaries that expose them as “phonies” and pretenders. Harrison will need to write fast: this book ends with a lot of questions that readers will want answered. Ages 13–up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Oct.)