cover image THE INSIDERS


J. Minter, . . Bloomsbury, $8.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-895-7

Designed to resemble a Gossip Girl entry, this enticingly trashy entrant into the yearly teen beach read sweepstakes attempts to do for lower Manhattan what the Cecily von Ziegesar books have done for the Upper East Side. Fashion-obsessed private high-schooler Jonathan is less than thrilled when his mother strong-arms him into taking his "country" cousin Kelli (she's visiting from St. Louis) to his friend's party. To Jonathan's surprise and eventual horror, high-energy, Bubblicious-chomping Kelli uses her "Mickey-Mouse-Club-gone-bad" good looks to work her way through his crew of four male buddies and nearly destroys all their relationships in the process. As if that weren't enough, in the single week of her stay, 17-year-old Kelli becomes downtown's newest "It" girl (and makes a triumphal detour to South Beach, too), palling around with models and artists, and even chatting with Calvin Klein. Although the series hangs on the boys—the author is the guys-point-of-view columnist for Seventeen — Kelli's on- and offscreen actions are responsible for nearly all the wit and fun here. A somewhat tacked-on subplot has the boys searching for their coolest friend, who seems to have gone missing. Up-to-the-minute music and fashion references (price tags included) and a thorough knowledge of downtown locales flavor the boys' picaresque meanderings from party to art opening to restaurant to after-hours club and back again, not to mention the obligatory pilgrimage to Barneys. Ages 14-up. (May)