cover image The Darlings Are Forever

The Darlings Are Forever

Melissa Kantor, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2368-2

Kantor (Girlfriend Material) offers a satisfying entry to the best-friends-until-high-school-separates-us genre, a good read for those who enjoy girlfriend stories told from alternating points of view. An adept exploration of friendship problems set against the backdrop of various New York City neighborhoods, it will appeal both to young New Yorkers and to readers who know the city only vicariously. Kantor's trio—aspiring actress Jane of Greenwich Village; brilliant Russian Natalya of Brighton Beach; and beautiful Victoria of the Upper West Side, daughter of a suddenly famous politician—have been schoolmates since kindergarten. Now attending different high schools, they face the challenge of preserving their closeness while navigating tricky adjustments to new schools and the delicate art of making new friends. Hovering over them like a fairy godmother is the spirit of Jane's late grandmother, who "talked to them like the grown-ups they would someday be," and gave them their mantra: "May you always do what you're afraid of doing." The problems and crises that arise are credible and not always predictable, the dialogue rings true, and the girls are well-developed characters that avoid stereotype. Ages 11–up. (Jan.)