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Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Thursday, January 5, 2012
5 stars: Recommended
Paperback: 320 Pages
Publication: January 31, 2012 by Harlequin Teen

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

Creepy and mystifying, New Girl is a high-school retelling of the classic Rebecca by Daphe Du Maurier. The story is told in the alternating perspectives of "new girl" in the present and Becca one year ago. New Girl is a gem in contemporary literature. The characters are all so humanly conflicted: because a single girl whirled in and out of their lives, leaving her mark in a horrific manner. Everyone is touched by her lies, especially this year's new girl, who never even met Becca.

The academy is stagnant because of Becca's loss, and no one will let the new girl forget that she can never be Becca. I admire the new girl. It takes great strength and perseverance to overcome a void such as the one that Becca left in the lives of the students of Manderly Academy. And she manages to do it--to make a place for herself at the academy with her own strength, unlike Becca who resorted to dirty tricks and her sex appeal.

I can't remember a character I hated more than Becca. She craves attention and is willing to do anything necessary to stay in the spotlight. She is cruel and manipulative, and I couldn't understand why (practically) nobody could see it. Yet I ended up pitying her. I pitied her for trying so hard and never really getting everything. I pitied her for ending up where she does.

Most eerily, I never noticed that the new girl's name is never mentioned until the very end, when Max calls her name. It feels symbolic, like she finally found her place in the world. I can't help wondering, like the new girl, what would have happened if a certain person made another appearance, and I agree that I couldn't see a happy ending. But still, what if? New Girl is creepy--shadowed by mysteries and the Becca's absence and filled with tormented characters, each with their own burdens. At the same time, it is irresistible. I was captivated from start to finish.

An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes


3 comments on "Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison"
  1. I agree with much of your review, but still only ended up giving it 3 stars for some reason. I didn't like Max at all, which didn't help the rest of the book, but I loved the mystery, and how strong 'New Girl' was!:)

  2. If I rated it off my personal liking of it, I would have given NEW GIRL a lower rating too. I appreciated the plot and ended up rating NEW GIRL against other books like it and how the author made me feel about the characters though.

  3. I love your review! Makes me want to read it. Sounds a little eerie.

    Magical Urban Fantasy Reads


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