cover image Unfriended


Rachel Vail. Viking, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-01307-4

Backbiting, scheming classmates take center stage in Vail’s (the Justin Case series) contemporary novel about middle-school relationships and acts of disloyalty. The nastiness begins when sixth-grader Truly betrays her friend Hazel by joining the popular group. Truly’s former best friend Natasha has ulterior motives for inviting Truly into the coveted circle, but Truly doesn’t know that. When both Hazel and Natasha turn against Truly, the result is a slew of mean-spirited online posts that cause trouble at school and make everyone miserable. The book is told from the rotating perspectives of six middle-schoolers—including Truly, Natasha, and Hazel—who are peripherally or directly affected by the ongoing drama, which draws in some of the boys in the class as well. Readers only get brief, glimpses into the complex problems at home, personal conflicts, and motivations for the students resisting or engaging in the bullying. A history project involving a reenactment of Benedict Arnold’s traitorous scheme finally forces the girls to see the errors of their ways, leading to a too-tidy, overly optimistic resolution. Ages 11–up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Sept.)